Skip to main content

Full text of "Opportunity and challenge : the story of BLM"

See other formats


III llll il 



The Story of BLM 

« i m 




The Story of BLM 

SC-- G. 50 


P. 0- E 


James Muhn 

Hanson R. Stuart 

designed by 
Peter D. Doran 


Denver, Colorado 


U. S. Department of the Interior • Bureau of Land Management 

September 1988 

Cover and Chapter Illustrations — Peter D. Doran 

Portrait Drawings — Jennifer Reese 

Graphics — Jennifer Reese, Kelly Sorenson 

Page Layout — Peter D. Doran, Jennifer Reese, Kelly Sorenson 

Graphic Assistance — Herman Weiss, John D. Montoya 

The views presented in this book by individuals outside the Bureau of Land 
Management (BLM) may not necessarily represent any policy or position of the 
BLM or the Department of the Interior. The use of trade names in this publica- 
tion does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by the U.S. Depart- 
ment of the Interior or BLM. 


For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washinton, D.C. 20492 







Prologue: The Public Domain From 1776-1946 


The Search For An Identity: 

The Bureau of Land Management, 1946-1960 



A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 




BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 



Commonly Used Acronyms 


Chronology of Significant Events 



Commissioners and Directors 






Jefferson and Hamilton and the Public Lands 
by Jerry A. O'Callaghan 

Commissioners of the General Land Office 
by Jerry A. O'Callaghan 

Surveying New Mexico Territory in 1859 
by R. E. Clements and L. Archer 

William Morris Stewart — "Father" of the Mining Law 
by William Condi t 

The Beaubien-Miranda (Maxwell) Mexican Land Grant 
by Andrew Send 

Land Rush in Oklahoma Territory 
by Anthony Rice 





Commissioner William A. J. Sparks Confronts Public Land Fraud 

by William A. J. Sparks 25 


Theodore Roosevelt on Conservation 
by Theodore Roosevelt 

Administrative Principles of the Grazing Service 
by Richard Rutledge 

The Alaskan Fire Control Service 
by Roger R. Robinson 


History of the U. S. Geological Survey's Conservation Division 

by Larry Godwin 33 




A Director's Perspective: 1948-1953 
by Marion Clawson 

The Range Advisory Board System 
by A. D. Brownfield 



Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Tales of Early BLM Forestry in Alaska 

by Edwin Zaidlicz 70 

A Director's Perspective: 1953-1961 

by Edward Woozley 78 

Records Improvement Project 

byTomAdler 89 

Eastern States Office 

by Curt Jones 93 


Service Center Role in BLM 

byEdDettman 107 

A Director's Perspective: 1961-1963 

by Karl S. Lands trom 108 

Classification and Multiple Use Act 

by Irving Senzel 114 

A New Emblem For BLM 

by Charles H. Stoddard 116 

A Director's Perspective: 1963-1966 

by Charles H. Stoddard 1 1 8 

The Alaska State Land Selection Program: A State Perspective 

by Roscoe E. Bell 127 

Off-Road Vehicle Management 

by Ralph M. Conrad 129 

California Desert Program: 1966-1974 

by J. Russell Penny 130 

The Vale Project 

by Max Lieurance 135 

The Boise Interagency Fire Center 

by Jack Wilson 1 39 

The Big Blow 

by Larry L. Woodard 142 


Feature Articles 

BLM's First "Lady" Forester 

by Edwin Zaidlicz 144 

Trail Blazer: BLM's First Woman Forester 

by Elaine Pearsons 145 

A Director's Perspective: 1966-1971 

by Boyd L. Rasmussen 148 

Nigerian Experience 

by Jack Mcintosh 152 


A Director's Perspective: 1971-1973 

by Burt Silcock 1 60 

Implementing NEPA in BLM 

by Ron Hofman 163 

Environmental Education 

by Ron Hofman 1 64 

BLM's Response to the Public Land Law Review Commission 

by Mike Harvey 1 67 

How FLPMA Passed 

by Eleanor Schwartz 169 

The FLPMA Tightrope 

by George Turcott 170 

A Director's Perspective: 1973-1977 

by Curt Berklund 172 

From MFPs to RMPs 

by Robert Jones 176 

Alaska's Outer Continental Shelf Office 

by Edward J. Hoffmann 178 

Upheaval in Alaska Land Status 

by Curtis V. McVee 185 

A World Class Project: The Trans-Alaska Pipeline 

by Arlan Kohl 1 87 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Ralph, Rita, and Gena 

by Tom Noble 1 89 

Phoenix Training Center 

by Vi Dille and Ken McGinty 192 

A Director's Perspective: 1978- 1981 

by Frank Gregg 196 

Implementing FLPMA 

by Frank Gregg 206 

A Woman in Firefighting 

by Louise Power 21 1 


A State Director's Perspective 

by Clair M. Whitlock 222 

History of BLM Land Exchanges in Arizona 

by D. Dean Bibles 224 

The Differences Between BLM and the Forest Service 

by Dr. Sally K. Fairfax 226 

The Lead Mines of Missouri 

by Charlie Most 229 

The Missiles of Garrison 

by William Frey 230 

On Being a Navajo Coordinator 

by Danny S. Charlie 232 

Life as a P.E.T. 

by Paul Parthun 234 

The Trials and Tribulations of Being a Resource Area Manager 

by Phyllis Rose berry 238 

Bureau Air Resource Management 

by Al Riebau 241 


Feature Articles 

BLM's Hazardous Materials Program 

by Myra Musialkiewicz and Michael Giblin 242 

Desert Bighorn and BLM 

by Allen Cooperrider 245 

A Wild Horse Roundup 

by Robert E. Stewart 246 

Cultural Resource Management in Arizona 

by Gary Stumpf 252 

The East Mojave National Scenic Area 

by John Bailey 255 

Wilderness Review Process in Utah 

by Gregory F. Thayn 256 

A Director's Perspective: 1981-1989 

by Robert F. Burford 262 

The Human Resource Development Committee and Its Role 

In Implementing Change in the Bureau of Land Management 

by Mike Evans 264 



This history could not have been written without the cooperation and 
encouragement of many BLM employees. In particular, we wish to thank 
Director Robert Burford and the Bureau Management Team for their 
continued support of this project. Director Burford took a personal interest 
in seeing that a history of BLM was completed while all of its former 
Directors were available to contribute to it. He gave us free reign in 
producing the book and extended us every possible courtesy. Service 
Center Director Bob Moore provided valuable insights and contacts for 
further information, but most important, encouraged us when we needed it 

Many Bureau employees and retirees participated in this project. In 
BLM we want to thank the following offices and people: Washington — 
Tom Allen, Dave Almand, Linda Brooks, Don Cabrera, Bill Condit, John 
Douglas, Larry Godwin, Charlie Grymes, Patricia Harvey, Bob Lawton, 
Tim Locke, John Moeller, Hank Nolden, Del Price, Eleanor Schwartz, B illy 
Templeton and June Wrona; Service Center — Brian Bernard and Judith 
Herrington; Alaska — Pat Bower, Mike Brown, Jim Ducker, and Dave 
Vickery; Arizona — Gordon Warren; California — Ron Hofman; 
Colorado — Andy Senti; Eastern States — Charlie Most; Idaho — Jack Sept 
and Del Vail; Montana — June Bailey, Cynthia Embretson, Bill Frey, Chuck 
Sigafoos, and Burt Williams; Nevada — Bob Stewart; New Mexico — Anne 
Jeffries; Oregon — Mark Ashton, Ed Ciliberti, Jeanne Glenn, and Art 
Oakley; Utah — James Parker; and Wyoming — Wayne Erickson, Larry 
Pomerinke, and Tim Monroe. 

Retirees that assisted us were Dale Andrus, Roscoe E. Bell, Bob 
Buffington, Bob Jones, Jerry O'Callaghan, Russ Penny, Roger Robinson, 
Jim Scott, Irving Senzel, George Turcott, Clair Whitlock, and Edwin 
"Moose" Zaidlicz. Because our time was limited in completing this project, 
there were many additional people we should have contacted but didn't — 
to them we apologize. 

Special thanks also go to BLM's former Directors who spoke and 
corresponded with us. In addition, Mike Harvey, Chief Counsel to the 
Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee, provided us with 
important legislative details on BLM in the 1960s and 1970s. Information 
on BLM program activities in the 1980s was not available in the published 
sources we used for other chapters. We particularly wish to thank Associate 
Director Dean Stepanek and his program staffs in Washington for providing 
information and suggested writeups for the 1980s chapter. 

To Service Center employees we owe a great debt. Linda Hill, Mitzi 
Maxwell, Bobby G. Miller, and Carolyn Tarpley transcribed hours of oral 
interviews. The library staff ordered volumes of reading material, providing 
hard-to-locate sources on short notice; we thank Sandra Bowers, Teresa 
Day, Barbara Klassen, and April Kobayashi for patience and assistance 
beyond the call of duty. Photo Lab personnel provided high-quality camera 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

work under tight deadlines. Linda Graham, Linda Hill, Barbara McArdle, 
Andrea Ortega, and Carolyn Tarpley provided hours and hours of top- 
quality typing. Invaluable research assistance was provided by S. Calvin 
Riley. The many details of printing procurement were handled by Carl 

We appreciate the assistance of Richard Crawford at the National 
Archives in Washington, plus Joel Barker and Eileen Bolger at the Denver 
Branch. We also want to thank our supervisors, Mary Gaylord and Roger 
Molinar, for keeping our schedules free so that we could complete this 
project. Special thanks go to our editors, Janet Poorman and Robert 
Woerner, and our proofreader, Karen Miranda, who provided significant 
editorial assistance and made this history more readable. 



To the uninitiated, the Bureau of Land Management is a bewildering 
array of programs. BLM manages a variety of resources, ranging from the 
more traditional resources of timber, range, and minerals, to exotics such as 
cultural resources and air quality. On any given day, a BLM employee 
might be found evaluating wildlife habitat in the morning, reviewing a 
report on the impact of off-road vehicles on archaeological sites that 
afternoon, and attending an evening public meeting on the construction of 
a power transmission line across public land. 

BLM administers more than 270 million acres of public land, most of 
it in Alaska and the western states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, 
Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyo- 
ming. The Bureau is also responsible for more than 570 million acres of 
federally owned minerals. In managing these lands, BLM is guided by the 
principles of multiple use and sustained yield and a recognized need to 
protect and enhance the natural and human environment. 

Fulfilling this responsibility is difficult. There is intense competition 
for the public lands among user and interest groups with conflicting needs 
and philosophical positions on natural resource management: coal compa- 
nies want to open mines, ranchers need grazing land, and environmentalists 
seek to preserve wilderness. The challenge to BLM is allocating public land 
resources in a manner that allows for each interest to enjoy the opportunities 
the public lands offer. 

BLM uses professional resource management principles and standards 
in making resource allocation decisions. Conflicting laws and user group 
demands, however, significantly influence the decisionmaking process, 
thrusting the Bureau into the midst of controversy and making politics a fact 
of everyday life for the agency. 

Many BLM employees decry the influence of politics. But politics has 
always been a part of the public land question. Political controversy gave 
birth to the public lands; politics has shaped the laws that govern their 
disposition and administration. Political controversy and influence will not 
disappear. Recognition of this is important if Bureau employees are to 
understand the role the agency plays and the important part they have in 
helping it carry out its mandates and responsibilities. 

People are another factor that has significantly shaped BLM. It is people 
who make decisions and implement policies. BLM's creativity and innova- 
tion — its "can do" attitude — are traits the Bureau has become known for. 
"The resilience and dedication of Bureau personnel," in the words of natural 
resources professor Sally K. Fairfax, "is the BLM's major resource for 
future development." 

BLM's people give substance and meaning to the agency. As employ- 
ees, we need to know how past public land policies contributed to the land 
patterns and resource controversies that BLM deals with today — especially 
as we prepare for the opportunities and challenges of the future. That is the 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

purpose of this book: to provide BLM employees and other readers with a 
sense of the agency and its mission. 

This history is a brief overview. It explores the broad aspects of public 
land policy and the growth of BLM into a multiple use management agency. 
The first chapter deals with BLM 's predecessor agencies, the General Land 
Office and Grazing Service; it outlines the policies by which the public 
lands were administered. The chapter also details the events that led to the 
creation of BLM. Chapter Two is concerned with BLM's early years. It 
explores the problems the new agency faced and how it worked toward 
assuring proper management of the public lands and building a profession- 
ally competent staff. 

The third chapter deals with the BLM during the 1 960s, when Secretary 
of the Interior Stewart Udall introduced new programs into the Bureau as 
part of America's "Third Conservation Wave." The chapter describes how 
the Classification and Multiple Use Act changed the Bureau and covers 
events up to the report of the Public Land Law Review Commission in 1 970. 
The next chapter looks at passage and implementation of the National Envi- 
ronmental Policy Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. 
The effects of other environmental legislation on BLM and its management 
of the public lands are also discussed. Chapter Five covers events in the 
1980s, bringing us to the present. 

There is no way two authors can capture the diversity and spirit of BLM. 
To broaden the book's coverage, employees and retirees throughout BLM 
have written articles on people, events, and offices that contributed to the 
Bureau's development. These articles are interspersed in each of the 
chapters where they relate to the text. 

At the end of each chapter, readings on public land issues and topics are 
given. Most of these references are books which direct readers to additional 

In reading this history, we hope that you will find the book as interesting 
and enjoyable as we did in researching and writing it. 



The Public Domain From 1776-1946 




77iere was nothing but land: not a country at all, 
but the material out of which countries are made. 

— Willa Cather 
MyAntonia, 1918 

Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

The Public Domain from 1776-1946 





The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today administers what 
remains of the nation's once vast land holdings — the public domain. The 
public domain once stretched from the Appalachian Mountains to the 
Pacific and "constituted," in historian Frederick Jackson Turner's mind, 
"the richest free gift that was ever spread out before civilized man." Of the 
1.8 billion acres of public land acquired by the United States, two-thirds 
went to individuals, corporations, and the states. Of that remaining, much 
was set aside for national forests, wildlife refuges, national parks and 
monuments, and other public purposes, leaving BLM to manage some 270 
million acres, as well as 570 million acres of mineral estate. 

Lands managed by BLM are often scattered and take on checkerboard, 
jigsaw, and patchwork patterns, but in much of the Great Basin, desert 
Southwest, and Alaska, solid blocks of public land predominate. These land 
patterns are inherited: the result of the public land policies pursued by the 
country prior to the agency's founding in 1946. 

To the young American nation the public domain represented challenge 
and opportunity — a wilderness waiting to be transformed into an 
agricultural Eden. The nation also needed revenue. A policy of disposing of 
public lands through auction seemed to meet both these needs. As the need 
for revenue lessened, policy shifted to one of development and lands were 
generously provided to settlers, corporations, and the states. But as the 
public domain diminished, the government chose to set aside timber, 
mineral, and grazing lands and regulate their development as a means of 
preserving the opportunity of the public domain. 


"The back Lands [sic] claimed by the British Crown" contended 
Maryland legislators in November 1776, "if secured by the blood and 
treasure of all, ought in reason, justice, and policy.. .be considered as a 
common stock." With that declaration, Maryland raised the issue of what 
should become of the territory between the Appalachian Mountains and the 
Mississippi River. The issue proved contentious and threatened the bonds 
that held the new union of states together. 

Seven states had claims to the region. Virginia, Massachusetts, 
Connecticut, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia had early 
colonial charters from England granting them title to the lands beyond the 
Appalachians. New York's claim resulted from concessions by the Iroquois 
Indians. The remaining states had no claims to the area. 

For states without land claims, like Maryland, the disposition of 
western lands was of major importance. They needed land to reward the 

Prologue: The Public Domain from 1 776-1946 

soldiers who served in their regiments against the British. Maryland also 
feared that if Virginia and the other land-claim states took title to lands in 
the trans- Appalachian West, they would dominate the nation economically 
and politically. Maryland demanded that the land-claim states relinquish 
their title to the central government and vowed not to sign the Articles of 
Confederation until that was done. 

The land-claim states resisted Maryland's demand at first. Virginia, 
Maryland's chief antagonist, declared that the central government had no 
claim to the western lands. The resolve of Virginia and the other land-claim 
states, however, weakened as they realized the importance of having 
Maryland in the union and recognized that their conflicting claims to the 
western lands could threaten their relations with each another. New York in 
1780 took the first step toward compromise by offering to cede its claim to 
lands beyond the Appalachians to the central government. Maryland 
reciprocated by signing the Articles of Confederation. 

The United States accepted New York's cession in 1781. Three years 
later, Virginia ceded its interests to the territory north of the Ohio River. 
Then came the cessions of Massachusetts (1785), Connecticut (1786), 
South Carolina (1787), North Carolina (1790), and Georgia (1802). 

Not all the western lands were ceded. Virginia had granted much of 
Kentucky to soldiers and other interests during the Revolution and so 
retained this area. Tennessee, carved from North Carolina, was also 
withheld from the public domain for much the same reason. 

The public domain rapidly grew beyond the bounds of the trans- 
Appalachian West. In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson acquired from 
France (through the Louisiana Purchase) the immense region drained by the 
Mississippi River's western tributaries. The purchase doubled the size of 
the nation. 

The Red River Valley of the North came to the United States by the 
Convention of 1818, which set the boundary with British Canada between 
Lake Superior and the Rocky Mountains at the 49th Parallel. By treaty with 
Spain the following year, Florida was acquired and the western border of the 
Louisiana Purchase redrawn. 

America's "Manifest Destiny" to span the continent was fulfilled in the 
1840s. The United States and Britain in 1846 ended their joint occupation 
of the Oregon Country by dividing the region along the 49th Parallel. That 
same year also saw the beginning of war with Mexico. American troops 
seized control of New Mexico and long-coveted California, and by the 
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, the United States took title to the 
Southwest from Mexico for $15 million. 

When Texas joined the Union in 1 845, it retained title to its vacant and 
unappropriated lands. The federal government, however, purchased the 
northwest portion of Texas in 1 850 and added it to the public domain. Three 
years later, James Gadsden negotiated the purchase of 19 million acres 
along the Mexican border needed for a southern transcontinental railroad 
route. The region was described at the time by Missouri Senator Thomas 
Hart Benton as "utterly desolate, desert, and God-forsaken." 


Red River 



and the 


Texas and the 



Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Western land cessions by the original states 


"Most astonishing of all the United States' acquisitions of territory," in 
public land historian Paul Wallace Gates' mind, "was the purchase of 
Alaska." Americans had expressed no interest in the northern icebox. The 
Russian Tsar, however, wanted to sell, and in 1867 Secretary of State 
William H. Seward obliged. For $7.2 million, the United States acquired 
more than 365 million acres and made its last addition to the public domain. 


When New York offered to relinquish its claim to the western lands in 
1780, the Congress of the Confederation responded with a pledge that "the 
unappropriated lands that may be ceded or relinquished to the United States, 
by any particular state.. .shall be disposed of for the common benefit of the 
United States." This raised the issue of how public lands should be disposed 

Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 


1 The original thirteen states and other 
territory not part ot the public domain 

2 State cessions to the United States 

3 North Carolina cessions to Tennessee, 1 790 
United States cession to Tennessee, 1806 and 1846 


(Annexation of Texas, 1845) 

7 State of Texas (not part of the public domain) 
1 United States purchase from Texas, 1 850 


4 Louisiana Purchase from France, 1803 

5 Treaty with Great Britain, 1818 

6 Treaty with Spain (cession of Florida and 
adjustment of Louisiana Purchase boundary), 1819 

8 Oregon Compromise with Great Britain, 1846 

9 Cession from Mexico, 1848 

11 Gadsden Purchase from Mexico, 1853 


12 Purchased from Russia, 1867 

Aquisition of the public domain 

Most in Congress agreed that the public lands should be used as a source 
of revenue for the nation's cash-starved treasury and provide land, as 
promised, to soldiers who had enlisted in the Continental Army. There was 
sharp difference, however, as to how disposal should be carried out. 

Most southern delegates favored a system of indiscriminate location 
and subsequent survey, as had been the practice in their states. Others 
advocated more orderly settlement, voicing arguments set forth by Thomas 
Jefferson, that indiscriminate location with subsequent survey led only to 
costly and protracted lawsuits as owners sought to establish boundaries. 
What they wanted was a system, like in New England, where survey 
preceded settlement. 

The Confederation in the Land Ordinance of May 20, 1785, opted for 
the policy of orderly settlement. After Indian tide issues had been quieted 
by treaty, the public lands were to be surveyed and numbered by the 
Geographer of the United States into townships, 6 miles square, and seven 
ranges. (In this, a rectangular survey system, townships are numbered in a 
north-south direction; ranges, in an east-west direction.) One-seventh of the 
townships, selected at random, were to be used to satisfy military land 
warrants. The remaining townships were to be auctioned at not less than $1 

Land System 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Surveys Begin 

First Land 

Sales to 

an acre. Half the townships were to be offered whole and the other half in 
"lots," later called sections, 1-mile square. The United States reserved Lot 
16 in each of the townships to provide revenue for public schools as well as 
four other lots for later sale. The government also reserved rights to one- 
third interest in any gold, silver, lead, or copper that might be found. 

Operation of the Land Ordinance disappointed Confederation officials. 
Surveys were slow. The Geographer of the United States Thomas Hutchins 
began work in the fall of 1785, but dense forests, swamps, and the threat of 
Indian attack resulted in the survey of only four ranges after 2 years of work. 

Impatient to sell public lands and bring revenue into the treasury, 
Congress ordered the completed townships auctioned in the fall of 1787. 
Not one whole township sold and only 108,431 acres were bid for. Indian 
troubles, the distance of the lands from agricultural markets, and the 
availability of cheaper lands in the original 13 states were all factors 
contributing to the lack of interest. 

Desperate for revenue, the Confederation abandoned the Land 
Ordinance of 1785 and contracted to sell public lands, without competition, 
to two speculative land companies: 1.5 million acres to the Ohio Company 
and 1 million to a company headed by John Cleve Symmes. Both offered 
Congress mere pennies per acre but, in the end, were able to purchase only 
a portion of the lands contracted. 



and the Public 


Land System 



Land Law of 

The United States ratified the Constitution in 1788, rendering the Land 
Ordinance of 1785 inoperable. A new public land policy had to be enacted. 
By Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2, of the Constitution, the task fell to 
Congress, for it had the "Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and 
Regulations respecting the Territory and other Property belonging to the 
United States." 

Congress debated the public lands questions for several years but no 
general policy was enacted until 1796. Interestingly, the debates did not 
center on whether the public lands should continue as a source of revenue, 
since the national debt continued to be troublesome, but rather to whom the 
lands should be sold. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton wanted 
the lands sold to capitalists and land companies who could pay top price for 
public lands. Pennsylvania Congressman Albert Gallatin, an adherent of 
Thomas Jefferson thinking on public land matters, did not oppose 
Hamilton's thinking, but did urge that cash poor farmers be accommodated. 

The Land Law of 1 796 sought a compromise between the positions. The 
law provided for the disposal of the public lands north of the Ohio River by 
the Department of the Treasury. Lands could be purchased in unlimited 
quantities at the minimum price of $2 per acre, with the full balance not due 
for a year. Half the townships sold in quarter townships, the other half was 
offered in 640-acre sections. Congressman Gallatin and his supporters 
hoped that settlers would pool their resources to buy the 640-acre tracts, but 
when bidding for prime agricultural land, monied interests had the 

Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 

Thomas Jefferson 


by Jerry A. O'Callaghan 
Volunteer Historian 

Thomas Jefferson, the nation's first Secretary of State, and 
Alexander Hamilton, its first Secretary of the Treasury, had 
strong opposing views on which social/economic groups 
could best guarantee the future of the new nation. 

Jefferson, a Virginia landowner, wanted self-sufficient 
family farmers as the base from which to build the new 
nation. He assumed they would produce enough to feed and 
clothe themselves, and sell the surplus to buy other necessi- 
ties. Because they were landowners, Jefferson also assumed 
they would take an interest in public affairs. Their rural lives 
would allow them to study public issues and officials, un- 
swayed by the commercial, industrial, or financial preoccu- 
pations of cities. 

Jefferson wanted the government to sell public lands to small 
farmers in tracts that would provide the self-sufficiency he 
envisioned. In short, Jefferson's public lands strategy was to 
retail small tracts at cut rate. 

Hamilton, a New York lawyer, cast his lot with, in his words, 

"the rich, the able, and the well-born," who could organize 

and finance commercial and industrial enterprises. 

Hamilton's plan was more complicated. He saw public lands 

as a way to back the government bonds sold to merchants, 

bankers, and others. He favored auctioning public lands in large blocks to promote maximum 

revenue with low overhead. By investing in land, "the rich, the able, and the well-born" 

helped guarantee revenue that would return their capital with annual interest. 

Hamilton's strategy, then, was to sell public lands at wholesale and bind the merchants and 
bankers to the new nation. Hamilton's view prevailed in the Public Land Act of 1796. 
Hamilton's plan required small farmers to buy their farms from those who had the money to 
respond to his strategy. Small farmers did not stand still for such treatment. Their aggravation 
brought on the Land Act of 1800, which authorized local land offices, reduced the minimum 
size for purchase and extended credit. In 1820 credit was abolished, but the minimum price 
was lowered. The ultimate in the retail policy was the Homestead Act of 1862. Under it, at 
no cash costs other than fees, settlers could buy 160-acre, self-sufficient farms with their time 
and labor. 

Jefferson's views quickly supplanted Hamilton's. Nevertheless Hamilton has prevailed over- 
all with national and international markets placing a premium on one-crop farming — the 
antithesis of self-sufficient farming. Such commercial agriculture gives great economic 
rewards. It also takes them away. Jefferson's influence is present in federal agricultural 
policy to mitigate wide market swings and natural disasters such as drought. 

Alexander Hamilton 

Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 






































Another notable feature of the Land Law of 1796 was the retention of 
the rectangular survey system established by the Land Ordinance of 1785. 
Rectangular As before, public lands were to be surveyed before sale. Surveys were to be 
Survey System contracted to independent surveyors who would follow the direction of a 
surveyor general. In executing township surveys, they were to note "all 
mines, salt licks, salt springs, and mill-seats. ..all water-courses... and also 
the quality of the lands" in their notebooks, so that purchasers could be 
informed about the character of the lands being offered. 

The sale of public lands 
came 2 years later. The results, as 
with the earlier Land Ordinance, 
were disappointing. At auctions 
held in Philadelphia and 
Pittsburgh, less than 50,000 
acres sold. Congress reacted to 
the poor showing by amending 
the Land Law of 1796. 

The Land Law of 1800 
embodied many provisions 
advocated by frontier interests. 
Tracts offered for sale were 
Land Law of reduced to half sections (320 
1800 acres) and purchasers were given 

4 years to pay the amount bid, 
with an 8 percent discount if the 
entire amount was paid at the 
time of auction. Another 
important feature of the act was 
the establishment of land offices 
in Cincinnati, Chillicothe, 
Marietta, and Steubenville. The 
offices were near the lands being 
sold and gave westerners an 
opportunity to bid on the offered 

The local land office became 

an important center of activity on 

the frontier. Here, people made 

entry for the public lands. 

Local Land Administering the offices were a 

Office System register and receiver, appointed and removed at the discretion of the 
President. The register entered the land applications in the record books and 
on the survey plats of the office. The receiver handled all payments and 
receipts. These actions were supervised by the Secretary of the Treasury in 
Washington. Land offices were moved or closed as the public lands within 
their jurisdictions dwindled or as new public lands were being surveyed and 

Township configuration under the Land 
Ordinance of 1 785 





































Township configuration under the Land 
Law of 1796 

Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 

opened to entry. More than 360 district land offices were ultimately 

The Land Law of 1 800 stimulated a sharp increase in land sales. By the 
close of 1802, more than 750,000 acres had been sold. Further stimulation 
came with the Land Law of 1804, which extended credit payments and 
reduced the size of tracts offered for auction from 320 to 160 acres. 

Congress also opened the public lands south of Tennessee to sale. The 
Land Law of 1 803 ordered the region surveyed under the rectangular system 
and sold in the manner set forth by the Land Law of 1 800. Hundreds of 
thousands of acres in the South were soon put on the market and sold. 

Land Law of 

Public Lands 
in the South 


To handle the rapidly growing public land business, Congress created 
the General Land Office (GLO) in 1812. Headed by a commissioner, the 
GLO was given the responsibility to "superintend, execute, and perform all 

such acts and things touching or 
respecting the public lands of the United 
States." Previously, public land sales 
had been handled directly by the 
Secretary of the Treasury, while the 
Department of War had administered 
military land warrants and the State 
Department, land patents. The General 
Land Office was placed within the 
Treasury Department until 1849, when 
it was transferred to the new Department 
of the Interior. 

Responsibility for organizing the 
GLO went to Edward Tiffin, its first 
commissioner. Tiffin, a physician, 
Edward Tiffin formQr us Senator> ^j farme r, set 

about the task without delay. With a chief clerk and staff of eight, Tiffin 
consolidated the land records spread throughout Washington and began the 
daily business of processing land entries. 

Duties and 

First GLO 


Public land sales declined with the outbreak of war with Great Britain 
in 1812. After the war, however, there was an unprecedented rush for public 
lands. Land cessions by the Indians defeated during the War of 1 8 12 opened 
the trans-Appalachian region to farmers and speculators, but the main 
catalyst for the coming boom was the rise in agricultural prices. The GLO 
auctioned off 1.5 million acres of public land in 1815; within 4 years, 5.5 
million acres had been sold. Competition for land was intense. In some parts 

Land Rush 

Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by Jerry A. O'Callaghan 
Volunteer Historian 

Editor's Note: Jerry O'Callaghan, a 21 -year veteran ofBLM, has been a volunteer historian 
for the Bureau since retiring in 1982 as Assistant Director of Lands and Minerals. 

The Commissionership of the General Land Office has been one of the nation's most 
prestigious and sought-after posts. When Abraham Lincoln's strong bid in 1849 failed, he 
was so disappointed that he took a long leave from politics. 

Thirty-four Commissioners of the General Land Office presided over the distribution of one 
billion plus acres of public lands — roughly half of the United States' total land area. The 
distribution is possibly the largest and most beneficent real estate deal in history, giving the 
language an idiom, "doing a land office business," for a high volume of retail trade. 

The General Land Office was created in 1812 to relieve the Secretary of the Treasury from 
having to oversee directly the local land offices. It was a quasi-judicial, ministerial office 
centralized in Washington, and became part of the newly formed Department of the Interior 
in 1849. 

Edward Tiffin, the first commissioner, combined a long public career with the practice of 
medicine. When the British burned Washington's federal buildings in 1814, Tiffin arranged 
for the removal of the land records to safety across the Potomac River. 

So he could return to Ohio, Tiffin arranged a trade with Josiah Meigs, the Surveyor-General, 
with Tiffin himself becoming Surveyor-General stationed in Cincinnati. Incidentally, Tiffin 
has been considered a superb Surveyor-General, a position closely related and equally 
important to that of the Commissioner of the General Land Office to which it later became 

No commissioner became President, but John McLean became an Associate Justice of the 
United States and was often talked about as a presidential candidate. Thomas A. Hendricks, 
after his commissionership, served in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. He 
was able to serve only nine months of his term as Vice President before his death. 

Although he served as commissioner a short time, James Shields must have been very 
persuasive. He went on to become a senator from Minnesota, California, and Missouri. 

William Sparks was an aggressively forthright commissioner. His efforts to redress what the 
public saw as preferential treatment of the land grant railroads, syndicates and speculators, 
to the disadvantage of actual settlers, aroused congressional and press ire. Three of his annual 
reports in die mid- 1 880s were cogent arguments for public land reform. Both L.C.Q. Lamar, 
Secretary of the Interior, and President Cleveland backed him, but Sparks resigned before his 
term was over in a difference with Lamar on a railroad case. 

Many commissioners had been state governors. The last, Fred Johnson, was also, briefly, the 
Bureau of Land Management's first director. 


Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 

of the South, prime cotton land sold for as much as $78 an acre. 

Then came panic. 

America's economy collapsed in 1819. Cotton and other agricultural 
prices plummeted and banks failed. The economic depression threatened 
the financial stability of the United States. During the land rush, speculators 
had taken advantage of the federal government's liberal payment terms; at 
the time of the collapse, nearly $23 million was still owed to the Treasury. 

Congress quickly abandoned the credit system. The Land Law of 1820 
discontinued the sale of lands on credit. Full payment for land had to be 
made at the time of purchase. However, buyers could now purchase land for 
as little as $1.25 an acre and the size of tracts could be as small as 80 acres. 
The buyers could still purchase public lands in unlimited quantities and 
lands not sold at auction were subject to private entry at the minimum price. 

Land speculation did not end with the Land Law of 1820. Although 
sales declined with the panic of 1819, they increased steadily during the 
1 820s. A big jump in land sales came in 1 835 when the acreage sold climbed 
to 12.5 million acres from the previous year's 4.6 million acres. In 1836, 
more than 20 million acres were sold. This surge in sales resulted from an 
improved economy, an expanded road and canal system in the West, 
available money, and the opening of new lands west of the Mississippi River 
created by the federal government's removal of trans- Appalachian Indian 

The federal government was "doing a land-office business" and the 
increased sales enabled it to pay off the national debt. The rampant 
speculation, however, was being financed by state bank-issued currency of 
uncertain value. This fact forced President Andrew Jackson to issue the 
Specie Circular of 1 836 requiring all payments for public land to be made 
in gold and silver coin. This action brought an end to the land sale boom and 
sales once again declined. 

Land Law of 

Land Sales in 


The General Land Office was concerned with more than land sales 
during these years. There were also military land warrants and private land 

At the outbreak of the Revolution, the Continental Congress and states 
offered land bounties to recruits who joined the army and navy. The federal 
government offered the same incentives used to raise an army for the War 
of 1812. Giving land for military service was a time-honored practice. 
Historian Paul Gates points out that the practice recognized "that land was 
not always easy to obtain, was much in demand, and that a land bounty 
might prove more attractive than anything else the government could 

The amount of land offered to soldiers varied according to rank. 
Privates in the Continental Army during the Revolution received 100 acres, 
whereas major generals got 1,100 acres. 

Military Land 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

The call for Virginia and the other land-states to relinquish their claims 
to the region west of the Appalachian Mountains was partly spurred by the 
need to provide land to soldiers and sailors. The Land Ordinance of 1785 
provided that one-seventh of the townships surveyed in the first seven 
ranges be set aside for the location of military land warrants. Congress later 
established a military district in Ohio for the location of these warrants. 
Other military bounty land reserves were established in Illinois, Missouri, 
and Arkansas after the War of 1812. In 1842, Congress began permitting 
veterans to select public lands outside the military districts. 

The policy of giving land bounties for military service continued until 
the Civil War. War veterans were then given the privilege of deducting all 
or part of their military service from the period of residence and cultivation 
required under the Homestead Act. 

Private land claims were another concern for the General Land Office. 
Private Land ^^ eacn addition to the public domain, the United States recognized land 
Claims tiftzs granted by previous sovereigns. This required verifying claims and 

issuing patents to confirm titles. 

Adjudication of private land claims was difficult. Claims often 
conflicted and rights of ownership complicated by missing documents. 
Fraudulent title papers were another problem. Sorting out the titles required 
lengthy hearings to determine the legitimacy of the claims. 

The first claims came with the acquisition of the trans-Appalachian 
frontier. With the purchase of Louisiana from France the GLO was 
swamped with private claims given by both the French and the Spanish. 
Thousands of claims were presented, most for lands in Missouri and 
Louisiana. To expedite adjudication, Congress established land 
commission boards, but the poor documentation for most title claims 
slowed their confirmation. Several thousand claims remained outstanding 
for more than 50 years. 






Claim Clubs 

The federal government's policy of auctioning public lands had always 
placed frontier settlers at a disadvantage compared with monied capitalists 
and speculators. Frontier farmers found money hard to come by, forcing 
many to build a home, clear land, and eke out what income they could on 
unsurveyed public lands. 

The policy of orderly settlement, however, sought to dissuade such 
squatting activity. The Confederation used troops to remove trespassers 
who had settled north of the Ohio River. The federal government used the 
same tactic, and an 1807 law provided for the removal, imprisonment, and 
fining of trespassers. These efforts, however, did little to deter the squatters. 

As surveys and sales progressed westward, squatter communities 
formed "claim associations" to protect their interests and regulate how 
lands were claimed and recorded. They also protected members from 
"claim jumpers" and worked to intimidate anyone who dared bid against a 
member's claim at auction. 


Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 




The government did, though reluctantly at first, provide some of these 
settlers with relief by extending the privilege of preemption. Preemption 
was the preferential right of an individual to purchase, at the minimum price, Preemption 
public lands that he or she had improved. The preemption concept had been Concept 
used in southern colonies prior to the Revolution, but the Confederation and 
federal government initially rejected the practice in favor of selling lands for 

Frontier interests did not let the idea of preemption lapse. Congress 
received petition after petition asking that the privilege be allowed. In 1799, 
Congress gave Ohio settlers, who had been duped by a speculator, the right 
to preempt the lands they had settled. Limited rights of preemption were 
then granted to settlers in Indiana, Illinois, Alabama, Mississippi, and other 
public land states and territories. The first general grant of preemption came 
in 1 830 but applied only to those who had settled on public lands prior to the 
law. The grant allowed claimants to enter 160 acres at the minimum price 
as long as the right was exercised prior to the auction of a tract and within 
1 year of the law's passage. The law was extended temporarily several times 
until 1841 when Congress passed a permanent preemption measure. 

The Preemption Law of 1841 allowed "every person, being the head of 
a family, or widow, or single man over the age of twenty-one years," and 
who was a citizen or declared his or her intent to become a citizen, the one- 
time privilege of entering up to 160 acres of surveyed public land at the 
minimum price per acre. The claimant, or entryperson, had to reside on the 
tract entered and to have cultivated the land. Public lands occupied as towns 
or places of trade, containing known mines, or those reserved by the 
government, could not be entered. 

This Preemption Law, in the words of historian Roy Robbins, was a 
"frontier triumph." Congress had come to recognize the plight of frontier Frontier 
farmers and had decided that allowing settlement of the public domain was Triumph 
as important a consideration as the raising of revenue. The new law allowed 
tens-of-thousands of farmers to obtain title to the lands they had worked so 
hard at improving. 





The rapid westward movement of the frontier bypassed scattered tracts 
of public land. These were the less desirable lands — rough and broken in 
character, often with inferior soils. Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton, 
a champion of frontier interests, pointed out as early as 1824 that these 
"worthless" lands sold at the same minimum price per acre as the best public 
lands — $1.25. The Senator argued for years that these less desirable lands 
would sell only if the price was reduced, and that reducing the price would 
actually increase revenue to the government. Benton also wanted the lands 
sold to the actual settlers rather than monied interests and speculators. 

In 1 854, Congress adopted Senator Benton's proposal. The Graduation 
Law provided that the less desirable lands open to private entry for (a) more 
than 10 years be offered for $1 an acre; (b) more than 15 years, 75 cents an 


Law of 1854 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Law Sales 

acre; (c) 20 or more years, 50 cents; (d) more than 25 years, 25 cents; and 
(e) over 30 years, 12-1/2 cents. Buyers had to live on or own a farm adjacent 
to the parcel purchased, and no more than 320 acres could be bought by any 
one individual. 

The effects of the law were immediate. Public land sales in 1854 
exceeded 7 million acres, a 700 percent increase over the previous year. The 
figure more than doubled in 1855. Unfortunately, speculators were again 
the beneficiaries through the use of fraudulent entries, forcing Congress to 
repeal the law in 1 862. 


Demand for 
Free Land 

Early Land 






Law Vetoed 




The Graduation and Preemption Laws helped placate frontier demands 
for land but what pioneer farmers really wanted was "free land." They 
argued that free land was their due. They transformed the public lands from 
wilderness to farmlands. They were the bulwark against Indian hostilities. 
And upon their efforts rested the country's economic, political, and social 

Congress had on occasion offered free land in regions the nation wanted 
settled. The Armed Occupation Law of 1842 offered 160 acres of land to 
each person willing to fight the Indian insurgence in Florida and occupy and 
cultivate the land for 5 years. Between 1 850 and 1 853, Congress offered 320 
acres to single men and 640 acres to couples who had settled in the Oregon 
Country or who migrated there. A similar, but less generous proposition 
was extended in 1854 to include the New Mexico Territory. 

Debate over a free land or homestead law began in the 1840s. Frontier 
advocates of the homestead principle were joined by eastern labor 
reformers who envisioned free land as a means by which industrial workers 
could escape low wages, job insecurity, and deplorable working conditions. 
Against the proposal were industrialists from the Northeast who feared a 
homestead law would empty cities of workers and weaken their domination 
over labor. The South also worried. The delicate political balance between 
the slave and free states in the Senate could be undermined by opening the 
undeveloped territories to small, independent farmers opposed to slavery. 

Despite opposition, support for the idea of homesteads increased over 
time. In 1 860, Congress finally passed a compromise measure whereby 
settlers could purchase 160 acres at 25 cents an acre if they resided on and 
cultivated their tracts for 5 years. President James Buchanan, however, 
vetoed the legislation, stating that the law would reduce public land 
revenues and undermine the present land system. Furthermore, Buchanan 
thought the law was unconstitutional. 

The Republican Party's 1860 presidential platform called for passage 
of a homestead measure. With Abraham Lincoln's election and the South's 
secession from the Union, Republicans made good on their promise. Under 
the Homestead Act of May 20, 1862, heads of households, widows, and 
single persons over 21 years old could apply for 160 acres subject to entry 
under the Preemption Law. Patent for the land would be issued after 5 years 


Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 


The men employed by the General Land Office to survey the public lands in the 1800s were 
often on the cutting edge of the frontier. In the wilderness these deputy surveyors and their 
crews faced myriad dangers and many lost their lives. Indian problems were one hazard often 
encountered by survey crews and in 1 859 two surveyors wrote the following about their near 
brush with death. 

@^u& g£ ' j £jl ssz£ sss? 

' y 



^'LZsl £<U^, 

The Surveyor General of New Mexico granted this request. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

of residence and cultivation or, if 
applicants so chose, they could 
commute their claim before the end of 
5 years to a cash entry, paying the 
minimum price per acre. 

The Homestead Law was seen as a 
great democratic measure by its 
supporters. The law, however, was but 
a promise; not all could take advantage 
of it. The Homestead Law offered free 
land but building of a home and 
breaking soil for crops took capital. 
The environment also worked to 
defeat the dreams of many. Of the 
more than 1.3 million homestead 

Vision and 


^> .*£*££* T^r 



Abraham Lincoln 

entries filed before 1900, only about half would go to patent. 

Homesteading in Nebraska in 1887 



Congress also turned its attention to townsites on public lands. As early 
as 1824, counties were allowed to preempt a quarter section (160 acres) of 
land for county seats. In 1844 towns founded on the public lands were 


Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 

allowed to preempt up to 320 acres, and in 1 864 and 1 867 Congress enacted 
new provisions that permitted towns to take title to even larger areas. Most 
communities established on the public lands did not take advantage of the 
townsite laws, but cities such as Denver, Boise, and Carson City did. 


The discovery of gold in California in 1848 caught the United States 
without a general mineral land policy, and Congress took no immediate 
steps to institute one. Miners, who quickly spread their search for precious 
metals across the Pacific Coast and Rocky Mountains, were forced to 
develop their own laws and regulations. Prospectors organized mining 
districts and devised rules as to how claims were staked and "title" was held. 
These rules were then enforced by miner courts. 

The government did have experience in dealing with mineral lands. The 
Confederation had reserved a one-third interest in all gold, silver, lead, and 
other minerals in the Land Ordinance of 1785. The federal government 
initially ignored the issue, only reserving saline lands. But in 1807 it chose 
to reserve and lease public lands valuable for lead in the Indiana Territory. 
The policy was extended to Missouri and the Great Lakes region by 1816. 
The War Department, because of the importance of lead in making rifle 
shot, administered the leasing program, but found it could not cope with 
miners' resistance to government oversight. 

The leasing of lead deposits in Missouri ended in 1829. In 1845, 
President James Polk told Congress that the "system of managing the 
mineral lands of the United States is believed to be radically defective," 
costing the government more to administer than the royalties it received. 
Congress agreed, and from 1846 to 1850, the lease policy was abandoned 
in favor of the disposal of lead, copper, and iron deposits in the Great Lakes 
region by preemption and sale. 

Congress, however, avoided the mineral question in the West. 
Presidents, Secretaries of the Interior, and General Land Office 
Commissioners repeatedly asked for enactment of a policy — be it lease, 
preemption, or sale — but Congress remained silent until 1 866. 

The first mining law was introduced by Senator William Stewart of 
Nevada. As enacted, the Mining Law of 1 866 declared that "mineral lands 
of the public domain., .be free and open to exploration and occupation," and 
deal with the patenting of lodes — claims containing gold, silver, or other 
precious metals occurring in veins. Lode claims were subject to the customs 
and rules of local mining districts, as long as they did not conflict with 
federal law. The law also provided for the patenting of lode claims on which 
at least $1,000 in actual labor and improvements had been completed. The 
length of a claim could not exceed 200 feet and the miners could follow the 
"dips, angles, and variations" of their lodes into adjacent property. Metes- 
and-bounds surveys of the claims were to be made under the direction of the 
Surveyor General, and the cost of patenting a claim was $5 an acre. 

In 1870, Congress passed a second mining statute, this one pertaining 

Gold Rush 

Early Mineral 

Lode Mining 
Law of 1866 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 



by William Condit 
Mining Law and Salable Minerals, Washington Office 

William Morris Stewart was the chief protagonist in debates 
to secure passage of laws that recognized the governance 
system miners had established by organizing into mining 
districts in the remote and largely lawless West. 

Bom in upstate New York in 1827, Stewart turned to study 
law in 1 849 and went off to Yale to pursue a degree. He quit 
school the next year to join the rush to the California gold 
camps. There he engaged in gold mining, but with litde 
success. Stewart again turned to study law and was admitted 
to the California bar in 1852. Two years later he became 
Attorney General of California. William M. Stewart 

In 1860, news of the fabulous silver discoveries on the Comstock Lode drew him to Virginia 
City in the Nevada Territory. For the next several years Stewart represented mining interests 
in fierce litigation battles over possessory rights to portions of the Comstock Lode. By all 
accounts he was domineering in the courtroom, a trait that served him well later in life. 
(Stewart allegedly waved a gun while interrogating a witness of "questionable veracity"!) 

Based on his accomplishments in territorial politics, Stewart was elected to serve as one of 
Nevada's first U.S. senators. Stewart proved an eloquent "apologist" for lode and placer 
miners occupying the public lands in technical trespass. Since no federal statute authorized 
the settlement and mining of mineral lands, he championed their system of self-governance. 
He believed "free mining" by U.S. citizens should be encouraged by enactment of a law 
granting patents to the discoverers of mineral wealth who diligently worked their deposits 
under the rules of their mining districts. 

After the Senate was persuaded, only the powerful chairman of the House Committee on 
Public Lands, George Julian of Ohio, stood between S tewart and passage of a lode law. Julian 
could bottle up the bill in committee indefinitely. Stewart out-maneuvered his foe by 
substituting his lode bill for one that had already passed the House, dealing with rights-of- 
way for ditch and canal owners on public land. Upon Senate passage, it was sent back to the 
House where Julian was unsuccessful in having the bill referred to his committee. On July 
28, 1866, the full House of Representatives passed Stewart's bill by a vote of 77 to 34, a 
remarkable margin considering that most seats were held by eastern congressmen who were 
expected to support legislation that produced federal revenues from the public land. 

In 1870, Stewart sought to persuade Congress that placer miners on the public lands needed 
similar legislative recognition of their possessory rights and an opportunity to patent their 
claims. Julian continued to protest "free mining" policies but to no avail; Congress went with 
Stewart's views again. On May 10, 1872, Congress merged the lode and placer statutes and 
made technical amendments, such as granting defined preemptive rights to lode claimants for 
the discovered lode and the area of land flanking the lode. 

Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 

to placer claims. The act defined placers as "all forms of deposit, excepting, 
veins of quartz, or other rock in place." Claims could be as little as 10 acres 
but no one person or association of persons could have a single claim for 
more than a quarter section. Claims had to conform with the legal 
subdivisions of the surveyed townships, but metes-and-bounds surveys 
were allowed in unsurveyed areas. The cost of patenting a placer claim was 
set at $2.50 an acre. 

Congress restated its mining policy in 1872 with the passage of the 
General Mining Law. This law declared that "valuable" mineral deposits 
rather than simply "mineral deposits" as stated in the Lode Mining Law of 
1 866, were to be "free and open to exploration and purchase." Local mining 
customs were still recognized. Lode locations, however, could be no more 
than 1,500 feet long and 600 feet wide. Furthermore, individual claimants 
were limited to 20 acres, while associations or groups could still have 160- 
acre claims. To protect their claims from others, claimants had to perform 
$100 of assessment work yearly and show at least $500 worth of 
improvements before the claims could be patented. Milling or processing 
sites could be entered on nonmineral lands but could not exceed 5 acres. 
Survey requirements and the per-acre cost of patenting a claim remained the 
same as before. 


Mining Law 

of 1870 


Mining Law 

of 1872 

Placer Mining at Cripple Creek, Colorado in 1893 

The enactment of the mining laws transformed miners from trespassers 
into legitimate occupants of the public lands. Valid claims were given a 
status akin to private property. More important, the development of 
minerals on the public lands was given priority over other possible land 

In 1873 Congress provided for the sale of public lands valuable for coal 
deposits. The law replaced an 1 864 statute that offered coal lands at auction 
for no less than $20 an acre and an 1 865 law that permitted miners who had 
developed coal deposits prior to enactment to preempt their mines. Neither 
law had been effective. The new statute was intended as a remedy, 

Coal Lands 
Law of 1873 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

providing for the location, development, and preemption of 160 acres to 
individuals and up to 640 acres to associations that had spent at least $5,000 
in development. The minimum price was set at $20 an acre if the claim was 
within 15 miles of a railroad and at least $10 an acre, if further out. 






After the Civil War, Congress began funding scientific and geologic 
explorations of the West to further encourage mineral development of 
public lands. Ferdinand Hayden, Clarence King, Lieutenant George 
Wheeler, and John Wesley Powell conducted expeditions over large areas 
of the Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, and Great Basin, mapping the terrain 
and describing the resources. In 1879, Congress consolidated these 
independent efforts into one organization, the U.S. Geological Survey. 

The Geological Survey was responsible for "the classification of the 
public lands and examination of the Geological Structure, mineral 
resources and products of the national domain." Under its first Director, 
Clarence King, and his successor, John Wesley Powell, the Geological 
Survey established itself as a competent, scientific organization. Its studies 
became highly valued by private industry and the General Land Office came 
to depend on its geologic and hydrographic knowledge. 


Public Lands 
for Colleges 

Early Grants 

in Aid of 


Congress shared the bounty of the public domain with more than miners 
and settlers. Soon after passage of the Homestead Act, it provided immense 
grants of lands to the states and railroad corporations. 

The Morrill Act of 1 862 provided each state within the Union 30,000 
acres of public land for each senator and representative to finance 
agricultural and mechanical arts colleges. States with public lands chose the 
acreage from the public lands within their boundaries. States having no 
public land, or little remaining acreage, were given scrip. Scrip, which was 
issued in 160-acre increments and sold to private parties by the states, could 
be used to locate and pay for any nonmineral public lands open to sale or 
private entry. From this grant, schools such as Cornell and Illinois State 
University were established. 

By providing lands to the states for the establishment of agricultural 
colleges, Congress was simply continuing its tradition of granting public 
lands for schools. The Confederation, in the Land Ordinance of 1785, had 
reserved Section 1 6 in each township to finance public education in the Ohio 
Country. The federal government reinstituted this practice when it admitted 
Ohio into the Union in 1802. The practice was continued with other states, 
partly to placate them for having to disclaim any right, title, or interest to the 
public lands within their boundaries. After 1848, states received two 
sections of land from each township, which increased to four sections with 
the admission of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. 

Congress also provided public lands to the states to finance institutions 


Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 

such as schools for the deaf and blind, and prisons. Most important to the 
economic development of the public land states were the grants for internal 
improvements. Under the land grants, roads and canals could be built and 
waterways improved. In 1841, Congress granted each of the public land 
states 500,000 acres of land for such purposes. Congress also gave lands 
classified as swamp and overflow to various states prior to the Civil War. 

The day before President Lincoln signed the Morrill Act, he approved 
a law granting lands to aid the construction of the first transcontinental 
railroad. Congress gave the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroad 
companies "every alternate section of public land, designated by odd 
numbers, to the amount of five alternate sections per mile on each side of 
said railroad, on the line thereof, and within the limits often miles on each 
side of said road." In 1864, the grant was increased to 20 alternate sections 
for each mile of track. Lands reserved by the United States, to which a 
preemption or homestead claim had been attached at the time the railroad's 
route was fixed, were excluded, as were all mineral lands except those 
known to be chiefly valuable for iron or coal. 

Before the Central Pacific and Union Pacific grant, Congress had given 
public lands to the states to encourage railroad construction. The practice 
began in 1850 with the Illinois grant for the Illinois Central Railroad and 
extended to other states in the Midwest and South in the decade that 
followed. But with few states between the Missouri River and the Pacific 
Ocean, and a vast territory to be crossed, a new policy for granting lands 
directly to railroad corporations became necessary. 





Land Grants 



Land Grants 

Limits of the railroad land grants 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 




Land Grant 

End of 


Land Grant 


The Central Pacific and Union Pacific grant was followed by others. 
The largest went to the Northern Pacific Railroad Company, which built a 
line from Lake Superior to Puget Sound. Northern Pacific received 20 odd- 
numbered sections for each mile of right-of-way across states and 40 odd- 
numbered sections for each mile across the territories. The massive grant, 
if it had been entirely fulfilled, would have provided 47 million acres of 
public land to the company, more than twice the acreage provided for the 
first transcontinental route. From 1862 to 1871, Congress granted nearly 
128 million acres to corporations for the construction of railroads. 

These multimillion-acre "checkerboard" empires came under criticism 
in the late 1 860s. Many westerners raised the cry of monopoly as railroads 
failed to bring their lands to market; the people demanded that the public 
lands be reserved for actual settlers. They called for an end to the grants and 
for the forfeiture of unearned and unsold land grants. Congress responded 
at first by placing "homestead clauses" on any railroad land grant legislation 
that required companies to sell their grants in quarter-section tracts for $2.50 
an acre to actual settlers. After 1871, Congress refused all further railroad 
land grants. Legislation on forfeiture came years later, but few land grants 
were revoked as a result. 

Selected Railroad Land Grants as of 1941 



Central Pacific 


Union Pacific 


Santa Fe Pacific (Atlantic & Pacific) 


Northern Pacific 


Southern Pacific 


Oregon and California 



Land Sales 




Culture Law 

of 1873 

As if settlers did not already have enough competition for public lands, 
Congress continued to auction lands after passage of the Homestead Act. 
Congress ordered millions of acres to market in Wisconsin, Nebraska, 
Kansas, California, and other states and territories. Good agricultural lands 
were offered at many of these auctions. But, after 1870, Congress was 
reluctant to put any more public lands up for auction. 

The Congressional reluctance to sell public lands coincided with an 
effort to expand settlement opportunities. By the Timber Culture Law of 
1873, 160 acres could be entered by anyone interested in planting and 
growing trees on land naturally devoid of timber. The Timber Culture Law 
responded to the common belief that trees would bring rain to the semiarid 
West. Forty acres had to be planted in trees, with the trees set no farther than 
12 feet apart. No residence was required and patent would pass if the trees 
had been kept in "healthy, growing condition for ten years." Amendments 


Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 

to the law in 1874 and 1878 reduced the acreage planted to 10 acres and 
permitted patenting within 8 years. 

The Desert Land Law was passed in 1877. It applied to public lands 
"exclusive of timber lands and mineral lands which will not, without 
irrigation, produce some agricultural crop." Entry could be made for a full 
section (640 acres), at a cost of $1 .25 per acre, and patents if irrigation was 
accomplished within 3 years. The law applied only to the States of 
California, Oregon, and Nevada, and to the Territories of Washington, 
Idaho, Utah, Dakota, Montana, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wyoming. The 
State of Colorado was included in 1891. Like the Timber Culture Law, no 
residence was required. 

Congress had enacted the Timber Culture and Desert Land Laws to give 
settlers flexibility. Both laws recognized that the public lands west of the 
100th Meridian were semiarid in character and that settlers needed more 
land than east of the meridian for successful farming operations to be 
established. The laws allowed settlers to acquire up to 1,120 acres when 
used in conjunction with the Preemption and Homestead Laws. 

Proving up — successfully patenting lands — under the Timber Culture 
and Desert Land Laws, however, was difficult. The Timber Culture Law, 
after its amendment in 1878, required claimants who had entered 160 acres 
to have 6,750 trees in "living (and) thrifty" condition at the end of 8 years. 
In the semiarid West this was difficult to achieve, and only 65,000 of the 
260,000 entries filed under the law were patented under the tree planting 
provisions of the law. 

Success under the Desert Land Law was little better. Construction of 
irrigation works was expensive and most settlers found they could not 
comply with the requirements of the law. Many settlers responded to the 
situation by resorting to fraudulent methods of proving up on their claims. 

Fraud was also used with the Timber Culture and other laws. The 
situation became so bad that much of the work in the General Land Office 
became more and more concerned with the detection and prosecution of 
fraudulent claims. 

Desert Land 
Law of 1877 

Culture and 
Desert Land 

Law in 


Fraud, as stated previously, had been a problem since the creation of the 
public domain. By the 1870s, evidence of the illegal appropriation of the 
public lands and resources became pronounced. In 1879, Congress created 
the first Public Lands Commission to look into how the land laws might be 
revised but then paid little attention to the recommendations. 

In his annual report for 1882, Commissioner of the General Land Office 
Noah McFarland noted that investigations by his bureau had found "that 
great quantities of valuable coal and iron lands, forests of timber, and the 
available agricultural lands in whole regions of grazing country have been 
monopolized." Mineral, livestock, and timber companies had people make 
entries under the Preemption and Homestead Laws and then purchased the 
claims after patenting requirements had been met so they could amass large 

First Public 




and Land 



Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 



By Andrew Send 
Realty Specialist, Colorado State Office 

Editor's Note: The United States has, with each acquisition of the public domain, recognized 
land titles granted by the previous sovereign. Of the thousands of private land claims and 
grants patented, those in New Mexico and California were the largest and among the most 
complicated to adjudicate. 

The Beaubien-Miranda grant (within present Colorado and New Mexico) had its origin in a 
brief period when the territory was under Mexican rule. On January 8, 1841, a fur trader of 
French-Canadian ancestry named Carlos Beaubien and Guadalupe Miranda, a Mexican 
citizen, filed a petition with the Civil and Military Governor of New Mexico asking for a grant 
of land that they promised to settle and develop. The grant given to Beaubien and Miranda 
was the largest of several large private land grants approved by Mexican officials in 1843- 

The grant consisted of a 1,714,765-acre tract of land in the County of Taos. Its boundaries 
were described by a metes-and-bounds description that used natural boundaries - streams, 
mountain ranges, etc. A portion of the grant's boundary description went as follows: "com- 
mencing below the junction of the Rayado and Red Rivers from thence in a direct line to the 
east to the first hills from thence following the course of the Red River in a northerly direction 
to the junction of Una de Gato with Red River." 

The grant to Beaubien and Miranda far exceeded the 1 1 square leagues (44,800 acres) 
allowed under Mexican law. In historical perspective, these large, rather hastily processed 
grants appear to have been an attempt to foster occupancy along the vulnerable northern and 
eastern boundaries of the Mexican Territory and encourage settlement and at least agricul- 
tural development. 

Beaubian sold his half of the grant in 1858 to Lucian B. Maxwell, an American who had 
married Beaubian 's daughter in 1842. It thereafter became commonly known as the Maxwell 

By the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848, the United States acquired New Mexico and 
pledged to recognize the land grants made by the Mexican government. The General Land 
Office recommended patenting of the Maxwell Grant in 1857. Congress confirmed the grant 
on June 21, 1860, but conflicting claims of interest in the grant by others, delayed final 
confirmation of the grant by the U.S. Supreme Court until 1887. 

Perhaps some of the ordeal of confirming the Maxwell and other land grants can be attributed 
to centuries-old Spanish philosophy toward land tenure that clashed with Anglo-American 
attitudes. Anglo-American thought leaned toward economic aspects, while Spanish social 
and political thought valued land as a territorial dimension of society. Anglo-Americans 
found this difficult to understand. 


Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 


Annual Report of the Commissioners of the General Land Office, 1885 

At the onset of my administration I was confronted with 
overwhelming evidences that the public domain was being 
made the prey of unscrupulous speculation and the worst 
forms of land monopoly through systematic frauds carried 
on and consummated under the public land laws. 

In many sections of the country, notably throughout regions 
dominated by catde raising interests.. .entries were chiefly 
fictitious and fraudulent and made in bulk through concerted 
methods adopted by organizations that had parceled out the 
country among themselves and inclosures defended by 
armed riders and protected against immigration and settle- 
ment by systems of espionage and intimidation. 

William A J. Sparks 

In other cases. ..individual speculation, following the progress of public surveys, was 
covering townships of agricultural land with entries made for the purpose of selling the claims 
to others, or by entries procured for the acquisition of lands in large bodies. Again, in timbered 
regions, the forests were being appropriated by domestic and foreign corporations through 
suborned entries made in fraud and evasion of law. Newly-discovered coal-fields were being 
seized and possessed in like manner. 

The question of my own duty, as the administrative officer immediately charged under the 
law with seeing that the public lands were disposed of only according to law, was at once 
forced upon me. Should I continue to certify and request the issue of patents by the President 
indiscriminately upon entries which there was every reasonable ground to believe were 
fraudulent.. .or should I withhold such final action until examinations could be made and the 
false claims separated from those that were valid? Should I disregard cumulative evidences 
of the universality of fraudulent appropriation of public lands and become an official 
instrumentality of their consummation, or should I say: "I mean to know what I am doing 
before I ask the President of the United States to sign any more land patents?" 

As a measure... of indispensable precaution I notified the several divisions.. .that final action 
should be suspended upon entries made in states and territories in which the greater degree 
of fraud had been developed, and where the larger disposable area of public lands remained. 

This notification, or order, was not expected to be acceptable to those whose purpose it is 
falsely and fraudulently to acquire title to public lands, nor to those whose profitable vocation 
was to promote the speedy obtainment of patents for compensation for fee. It was a public 
measure in the public interest.. .intended to check.. .conspiracies against the government. 

I have caused lists of suspended entries to be placed in the hands of special agents for 
examination and report, and am convinced that it is not safe to issue patents on pre-emption, 
commuted homestead, and other entries in which fraud most largely prevails without such 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Sparks and 
Land Fraud 

Public Land 
Law Reform 

landholdings. The Timber Culture Law was used by speculators to secure 
interests in lands they knew later settlers would buy. Stockraisers used the 
Desert Land Law to control access to streams and rivers. They also fenced 
public lands to exclude other ranchers and settlers from rangelands they 
used. In Colorado alone, 3 million acres were fenced. 

McFarland established a corps of agents to investigate illegal entries 
and fencing. The new agents joined others already assigned to investigating 
illegal timber cutting. These agents, however, were few; a single 
investigator was often responsible for an entire state or territory, limiting 
what could be accomplished. To help, the Commissioner called for the 
repeal of the Preemption and Timber Culture and the other land laws being 
fraudulently used. He also called for enactment of an anti-fencing statute, 
the only request Congress acted on. 

McFarland's successor, William A. J. Sparks, continued the fight 
against fraud. Sparks saw illegality everywhere. To combat it, he suspended 
all pending patent applications under the various land laws and began 
reinterpreting the land laws and their requirements to prevent their misuse. 

The new Commissioner was joined in his crusade against fraud. His 
New Mexico Surveyor General, George Julian, also railed against illegal 
practices. Julian was particularly concerned about private land grant claims 
made by Spain and Mexico. Charged with adjudicating these claims, the 
Surveyor General of New Mexico found many of the claims to be forgeries 
or excessive in the lands they included. 

The zeal of Sparks and his lieutenants brought protests. The Cheyenne 
Sun in 1887 derided the Commissioner by declaring that the West "shaft 
have no other god than William Andrew Jackson Sparks, and none other 
shalt thou worship." Such protests became too much for President Grover 
Cleveland and he eventually had to ask for Sparks' resignation. 

The efforts of McFarland and Sparks had a telling effect on fraud. While 
not eliminating it, they reduced fraudulent activity on the public lands. The 
two commissioners also clearly brought the problem to the attention of 
Congress. Public land law reform was needed, and Congress, always slow 
to react on land matters, did eventually react. In 1890, individuals were 
restricted from acquiring more than 320 acres of public land. Under the 
General Public Lands Reform Act of 1891, Congress stopped auctioning 
public lands under the Land Law of 1 820, repealed the Timber Culture and 
Preemption acts (though not without some saving clauses), and reduced 
Desert Land entries to 320 acres. 


By 1891, the public domain was rapidly diminishing. In 1887, 

Congress, seeking to satisfy the nation's hunger for land, had adopted a 

Opening policy of giving individual farms to reservation Indians and opening the 

Indian Lands remaining Indian lands to settlers. The Great Sioux Indian Reservation in 

South Dakota, Chippewa lands in Minnesota, and the famous "land rush" 

openings in Oklahoma, were among the many Indian reservations opened 


Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 


by Anthony Rice 
From OUR PUBLIC LANDS (Summer 1976) 

Editor's Note: In 1889 the opening of Indian lands in Oklahoma Territory to homesteaders 
began. Early openings provided opportunities for settlers to race for homestead tracts. The 
last "rush" came with the opening of the 6^00,000-acre "Cherokee Strip" in 1893. Among 
the 45 clerks hired by the General Land Office to handle homestead applications was 
Anthony Rice, who wrote the following account of his experience of the Cherokee Strip. 

It was a "Public Land Opening," in its wildest sense. I will attempt to describe it as I saw [it] 
and as it in reality was. 

In order to prevent parties who had no rights under the homestead laws from entering the land 
and thereby defeat the chances of those who were entitled thereto, the "booth" or registration 
system was adopted. Accordingly, nine booths were established, five of which were on the 
northern and four on the southern line of the [Cherokee Strip]. 

The booths were open from September 1 1 to September 19, 1893, between the hours of 7 
A.M. and 6 P.M. Over 115 ,000 persons registered, while the lands fit for homesteading would 
provide for only about 20,000. 

I registered a blind man and in order to satisfy my curiosity, I inquired of his guardian what 
possible chance the poor fellow had in this wild scramble and how he proposed to make the 
race. The guardian replied that he would stand him on the line and as soon as the gun was fired, 
he would make one jump and plant his flag. I am afraid that this fellow, if he got in front of 
that crowd, was himself planted, instead of the flag. 

The hardships endured were indescribable. Persons slept on the line for two and three days, 
waiting to be registered. ...And all this was endured for what? In the bare hope of realizing that 
which is so characteristic of our present speculative generation — the desire to get 
"something for nothing." 

At high noon on September 16, 1893, the soldiers fired their guns and off started the greatest 
and most wonderful race of all times. About 150,000 persons went pell mell, helter skelter. 
Some went on horseback, some in vehicles of every conceivable description, some by train 
and some on foot. 

The trains were loaded. Every inch of the roofs were covered and many hung on the sides of 
the cars by holding to the window sills, while the open windows furnished room for some. 

You have often heard of doing a "Land Office Business." We did it there. 


,**wW ' . '>^^| ^ 

H a *™ 

-?« l ^K> : i-ff.SifKi'^^i^ 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

to settlers. But the opening of Indian reservations did little to alleviate the 
increasing demands. 

Questions of how and to whom public lands would be allocated became 
increasingly divisive; competing interests struggled to gain control of the 
lands and resources they needed. This was complicated by the federal 
government's more active role in administering the use of public lands and 
resources, as the idea of conservation began sweeping the nation. 






Timber and 

Stone Law of 


Famine Scare 


Reserve Law 

of 1891 

First Forest 



Act of 1897 

Early conservation efforts focused on public timberlands. When 
Americans moved west from the Appalachian Mountains pioneers gave 
little thought to conserving forests. Forests were an impediment to progress. 
Trees were everywhere and made the clearing of land for farming difficult. 

The federal government disposed of these timberlands like any others. 
Most forested areas east of the Mississippi River were sold at auction. 
Agricultural lands with timber could be settled under provision of the 
Preemption and Homestead Laws. In 1878, Congress passed the Timber 
and Stone Law providing a quarter-section of land chiefly valuable for 
timber or stone at the minimum cost of $2.50 an acre. Until 1892, the law 
applied only to California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington; afterwards it 
included all the public land states. 

Timberlands were quickly disappearing by the late 1800s. Many areas 
around the Great Lakes had been clear cut and timber production in the 
South was rapidly increasing. Fear arose that the nation would soon have no 
more forests and calls for conserving what timberland remained began to be 

The first response to this concern came with passage of the General 
Public Lands Reform Law of 1891. The last section of the law allowed the 
President to withdraw and reserve public lands "wholly or in part covered 
with timber and undergrowth, whether of commercial value or not" from 
settlement and location. The provision, which had been a last minute 
amendment to the law and went forward without debate, was a radical 
change from the disposal policies long followed by Congress. 

No sooner had the 1891 law been enacted than President Benjamin 
Harrison created the first "forest reserve" adjacent to Yellowstone National 
Park. By 1893, 16 more reserves had been created, with nearly 18 million 
acres of public land set aside. Administration of the forest reserves went to 
the Department of the Interior and the General Land Office. Congress, 
however, failed to provide authority to administer use within the forest 
reserves and Secretary of the Interior Hoke Smith halted the creation of 
more reserves until Congress did so. 

After much debate, Congress passed the Forest Management Act of 
1897. The law permitted the President to modify, suspend, and revoke the 
forest withdrawals he made. It also gave the Secretary of the Interior 
authority to regulate occupancy and use within the reserves, develop 
mineral resources, provide for fire protection on the reserves, and permit the 


Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 

sale of timber. Further, the law allowed owners of private property within 
the reserves to exchange their lands for nonmineral, public lands of equal 
acreage outside the withdrawals. 

Administration of the reserves remained with the GLO, which had a 
small corps of superintendents, supervisors, and rangers. The GLO was 
assisted by the Geological Survey, which surveyed and mapped the 
reserves, and the Department of Agriculture, which provided scientific 
expertise on grazing and timber management matters. 


Theodore Roosevelt became President after the assassination of 
William McKinley in 1901. A New Yorker born to wealth, Roosevelt had 
as a young man gone to the Dakota Territory and run a cattle ranch. He had 
a great love of the outdoors and hunting. Under his leadership, the federal 
government would mount a crusade for the conservation of public lands and 

The central theme of Roosevelt's conservation philosophy, according 
to Gifford Pinchot, chief architect of the policy and first head of the Forest 
Service, was to provide "the greatest good for the greatest number for the 
longest time." This called for developing public lands in a manner that 
promoted the best and highest use of resources, accomplished through 
scientific and technical efficiency. 

Roosevelt's first conservation crusade involved irrigation. Low 
precipitation mandated irrigation in many parts of the West and Congress' 
enactment of the Desert Land Law of 1877 had been an admission of this 
fact. In 1888 Congress, wanting to learn more about irrigation possibilities 
in the West, ordered the Geological Survey to investigate potential 
reservoir, ditch, and canal sites on the public lands in the West, only to 
cancel the effort in frustration over the slowness of the work. 

The Carey Land Act of 1894 was then passed to encourage state- and 
territorial-sponsored irrigation projects on public lands. The states and 
territories could receive patent to any arid public lands they had irrigated — 
up to 1 million acres. The projects were to be constructed by private 
companies, but the lands had to be sold in 160-acre tracts to actual settlers. 
The effort proved disappointing, as few projects were built. 

To Roosevelt and other conservationists, irrigation was a chance to 
make "worthless" lands valuable and to increase agricultural opportunities. 
In 1002, the President and his supporters pushed a reclamation law through 
Congress. The law provided for the construction of federal irrigation 
projects in the western states and territories, using proceeds from the sale 
of public lands. Lands selected for reclamation were to be withdrawn from 
settlement but then opened to settlers under the Homestead Law after the 
construction of projects. No one person could receive more than 160 acres 
within a project and settlers were to eventually repay the government for the 
costs of construction. 







Carey Land 
Act of 1894 

Law of 1902 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


Special Message of the President Transmitting Report 
of the National Conservation Commission, January 22, 1909 

The policy of conservation is perhaps the most typical 
example of the general policies which this Government has 
made peculiarly its own during the opening years of the 
present century. The function of our Government is to insure 
to all its citizens, now and hereafter, their rights to life, 
liberty , and the pursuit of happiness. If we of this generation 
destroy the resources from which our children would other- 
wise derive their livelihood, we reduce the capacity of our 
land to support a population, and so either degrade the 
standard of living or deprive the coming generations of their 
right to life on this continent. 

Theodore Roosevelt 

We should do all in our power to develop and protect 

individual liberty, individual initiative, but subject always to the need of preserving and 
promoting the general good. When necessary, the private right must yield, under due process 
of law and with proper compensation, to the welfare of the commonwealth. man and no 
set of men should be allowed to play the game of competition with loaded dice. 

All this is simply good common sense. The underlying principle of conservation has been 
described as the application of common sense to common problems for the common good. 

Our public-land policy has for its aim the use of the public land so that it will promote local 
development by the settlement of homemakers; the policy we champion is to serve all the 
people legitimately and openly, instead of permitting the lands to be converted, illegitimately 
and under cover, to the private benefit of a few. Our forest policy was established so that we 
might use the public forests for the permanent public good, instead of merely for temporary 
private gain. The reclamation act, under which the desert parts of the public domain are 
converted to higher uses for the general benefit, was passed so that more Americans might 
have homes on the land. 

We are striving to add in all ways to the habitability and beauty of our country. We are striving 
to hold in the public hands the remaining supply of unappropriated coal, for the protection 
and benefit of all the people. We have taken the first steps toward the conservation of our 
natural resources, and the betterment of country life, and the improvement of our waterways. 

The nation, its government, and its resources exist, first of all, for the American citizen, 
whatever his creed, race, or birthplace, whether he be rich or poor, educated or ignorant, 
provided only that he is a good citizen, recognizing his obligations to the nation for the rights 
and opportunities which he owes to the nation. 

The tasks this nation has to do are great tasks. They can only be done at all by our citizens 
acting together, and they can be done best of all by the direct and simple application of homely 
common sense. 


Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 

Second Public 


Soon dozens of federally sponsored irrigation projects were underway 
in the West. Construction and management of the irrigation systems went 
to the Reclamation Service, later renamed the Bureau of Reclamation, but 
handling of Homestead entries remained with the General Land Office. 

Another of Roosevelt's public lands issues was the resurgence of fraud. 
Ranchers were again fencing public lands; speculation and fraud Fraud 

surrounded Homestead, Desert Land, and Timber and Stone entries. The Resurgence 
President created a second Public Lands Commission to look into the 

The Commission, chaired by Gifford Pinchot, found the public land 
laws "antiquated and ill-suited to conditions of the remaining public 
domain." It called for changes in the Homestead and Desert Land Laws to 
prevent fraud and asked that the Timber and Stone Law be repealed because 
timber companies were using it illegally to acquire large forest holdings. A 
few the recommended changes were enacted by Congress, but Roosevelt 
had to largely rely on the GLO's corps of investigators to reduce fraudulent 
and illegal activity. 

President Roosevelt pushed other conservation measures with greater 
success. In 1905, he stepped-up creation of wildlife reserves (establishing 
more than 50 by the end of his term), and created the Forest Service within Roosevelt's 
the Department of Agriculture to administer the forest reserves (soon after Conservation 
renamed national forests). He began the withdrawal of lands from Initiatives 
settlement thought to be valuable as sites to build dams for the generation 
of electrical power. The President also pushed passage of the Antiquities 
Act of 1906. 

The Antiquities Act provided for the protection of historic and 
prehistoric objects on public lands. Any "historic landmarks, historic and 
prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest" Antiquities 
were to be designated as national monuments. Roosevelt created the first Act of 1906 
national monument that year with the withdrawal of Devils Tower in 
Wyoming. Ten years later, 35 natural areas and prehistoric sites, ranging 
from one-half acre to nearly 300,000 acres, had been set aside. 

The General Land Office was given the responsibility to manage and 
protect the national monuments, but Congress never appropriated the National 
needed funds. In 1916, administration of the monuments was transferred to Monuments 
the newly created National Park Service, which also took over management 
of the national parks from the Secretary of the Interior. 


Another of Theodore Roosevelt's conservation concerns dealt with the 
mineral values of the public domain. Much of his attention focused on coal; 
vital to the nation's industrial economy and the heating of homes. 

Fraudulent acquisition of coal lands had been a problem for years; to 
stop the problem, Roosevelt wanted to withhold these lands so the 
Geological Survey could determine whether the lands were more valuable 
for coal than for other purposes. The President did this in 1906. Roosevelt, 


Coal Lands 



Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


Coal to the 


Reserving Oil 

and Gas to 

the U.S. 



Leasing Law 

of 1920 

however, had no explicit authority from Congress to make such 
withdrawals, but he did contend, that as chief executive, the President could 
do whatever was necessary in the interest of the people, as long as the 
Constitution did not specifically prohibit it. Many in Congress disagreed 
with this rationale; but a year after Roosevelt left the White House, 
Congress enacted the General Withdrawal or Pickett Act of 1 9 1 0, giving the 
President power to "temporarily" withdraw public lands from settlement 
and location for public purposes. 

The coal land withdrawal action, which embraced more than 66 million 
acres by November 1906, shocked western politicians and business 
interests. They clamored for revocation of the withdrawals, claiming that 
withholding coal lands from development would result in winter coal 
shortages and that the withdrawals kept lands from homesteaders. 

To solve the problem, the President advocated settlement if the coal 
could be reserved to the government. On the last day of his presidency, 
Roosevelt signed the Act of March 3, 1909, which provided patents to 
homesteaders who had settled previously unclassified coal lands, as long as 
they consented to the United States' reservation of the coal. The Act of June 
22, 1910, permitted homesteaders to file for known coal lands under the 
same condition. 

The policy of reserving mineral rights was also extended to petroleum 
lands by Roosevelt's successors. Public land valuable for oil could be 
patented under the placer mining law; to protect that resource, President 
William Howard Taft in 1909 began to withdraw suspected petroleum lands 
from agricultural entry. In 1912, Congress permitted nonmineral entries on 
oil and gas lands in Utah, as long as those minerals were reserved to the 
United States. Two years later, during Woodrow Wilson's administration, 
the policy was extended to all public lands and the list of minerals that could 
be reserved was enlarged to include phosphate, nitrate, potash, and 
asphaltic minerals. 

As part of the mineral policies initiated during his Presidency, 
Roosevelt had advocated a leasing policy for coal and petroleum lands, but 
Congress resisted the idea. In 1917, potassium deposits could be leased 
because potassium was essential to America's production of military 
explosives during World War I. This prompted the policy to extend leasing 
to coal, petroleum, natural gas, sodium, phosphate, and oil shale in 1920. 

Under the Mineral Leasing Act individuals and companies could 
prospect for and develop the minerals listed. Preference-right leases were 
issued to those who discovered previously unknown deposits or were able 
to develop deposits previously thought unworkable into marketable 
minerals. Competitive leases were issued for public lands known to have 
valuable mineral deposits. Of the royalties received by the United States 
from production of minerals under these leases, 10 percent went to the U.S. 
Treasury, 37 1/2 percent to the states in which production occurred, and the 
remainder to a fund for the construction of federal irrigation projects. 

The law was administered among three Interior Department agencies. 
The Geological Survey, through its Land Classification Branch (later 


Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 


by Larry Godwin 
Geologist, Washington Office 

On March 3, 1879, Congress established the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in the Depart- 
ment of the Interior and charged it with the responsibility for classifying public lands and 
examining the geologic structure and mineral resources and products of the national domain. 

Conservationists were becoming increasingly alarmed over the waste of coal and other 
mineral resources caused by poor mining methods and apathy toward conserving nonrenew- 
able resources. During the 1890s many large companies fraudulently obtained coal land by 
paying others to homestead lands having coal in the subsurface. Most of the western coal 
fields were unmapped and had not been classified. Accusations of fraud increased until, in 
1906, President Theodore Roosevelt ordered coal basins in the western United States 
withdrawn from agricultural entry until they could be classified. That same year the USGS 
began mapping and classifying coal fields on the public lands, establishing the Land 
Classification Board to oversee the efforts. 

In 1920, Congress passed the Mineral Leasing Act which changed the disposal of oil and 
gas, coal, and other minerals to leasing. The Bureau of Mines was given full 
responsibility for managing oil and gas leasing operations. In 1922, Interior Secretary 
Albert B. Fall approved the issuance of leases in the Teapot Dome Naval Petroleum 
Reserve without competitive bidding. Congressional investigation revealed that Fall had 
accepted money in return for the leases. As a result of this scandal, Fall's successor, 
Hubert Work, in 1925, transferred the mineral-leasing responsibilities to the USGS. 

The Conservation Branch was established to incorporate these new functions with the Land 
Classification Board. It was authorized to classify lands according to their highest use; protect 
the public interest in undeveloped minerals, water power, and agricultural resources; and 
promote economical and efficient development of mineral deposits on public and Indian 
lands. In 1948, the Conservation Branch became the Conservation Division. 

The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Lands Act extended the jurisdiction of the United States 
to include the continental shelf outside the 3-nautical-mile zone. The act authorized the 
Secretary of the Interior to grant OCS mineral leases through competitive bidding. In 1953, 
the Division became responsible for OCS mineral exploration and development. 

By 1970, the Conservation Division was responsible for (1) managing exploration and 
development of OCS minerals; (2) classifying federal onshore lands as to their mineral and 
water power value and managing exploration and development of minerals on federal and 
Indian leases; and (3) collecting royalties from federal and Indian leases. 

The Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations considered merging BLM, the Forest Service, 
and the Conservation Division into one agency. Finally, on January 19, 1982, the Reagan 
Administration established the Minerals Management Service (MMS) and transferred to it 
all functions of the Conservation Division. On December 3, 1982, all MMS's onshore 
minerals management functions were transferred to BLM. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Law of 1906 

Law of 1909 

renamed the Conservation Division) classified public lands according to 
mineral value. The General Land Office issued leases and collected fees and 
royalties, and the Bureau of Mines oversaw lease development. 


The Conservation Movement did not mean that the nation's settlement 
policy for the public lands had come to an end-far from it. The country's 
commitment to providing farms to the landless is well illustrated by the 
Reclamation Act of 1902 and other acts. 

The Forest Homestead Law of 1906 opened agricultural lands within 
the forest reserves to settlement. 

The most significant settlement law passed during the Roosevelt years, 
however, was the Enlarged Homestead Law. The new law responded to the 
dryland farming movement that grew soon after the turn of the century. 
Lands previously thought to be valuable only for grazing now became 
valuable for agriculture as farmers adopted techniques of deep plowing, soil 
compacting, summer fallowing, and seeding drought-resistant crops. 
Dryland farming, however, required greater capital investment and more 

The Enlarged Homestead Law gave 320 acres to farmers who entered 
public lands that could not be irrigated. As with the 1 862 Homestead statute, 
homesteaders had to reside on the land. One-eighth the area entered now had 
to be planted, whereas the 1862 statute had no specific requirement and 

The El Reno District Land Office, Oklahoma Territory, 1901 


Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 

settlers who had made 1862 Homestead entries were permitted to make 
additional entries that would increase their total holdings to 320 acres. 
Representatives from California, Idaho, Kansas, North Dakota, and South 
Dakota originally asked that the law not be extended to the public lands 
within their boundaries, but by 1915, the new law, in one form or another, 
had been extended to those states as well. 

Congress further liberalized the homesteading laws in 1912 with 
passage of the Three- Year Homestead Law. This law reduced the 5-year 
residence and cultivation requirements to 3 years. 

The Enlarged Homestead and Three-Year Homestead Laws further 
stimulated a homestead rush already underway in the West because of 
dryland farming promotion, increased precipitation, rising land values, and 
escalating agricultural commodity prices. Millions of acres were turned by 
the plow and new communities sprang up across the West. In Montana, the 
Enlarged Homestead Law pushed entries from the 7,500 filed in 1909 to 
nearly 22,000 the following year. The crush of settlement activity led to 
more Homestead entries being patented after 1900 than before. 

The rush for homesteads, however, ended with America's entrance into 
World War I in 1917. Many homesteaders were drafted into the military, 
while others left to take well-paying industrial jobs in the cities. After the 
war the bust continued as drought swept across many parts of the West and 
agricultural and livestock economic prices collapsed. 

Law of 1912 




Another reason that homesteading dwindled after World War I was the 
fact that the public domain had little good agricultural land remaining. 
Excluding Alaska, there was little more than 200 million acres of vacant, 
unappropriated, and unreserved public land remaining. Much of the land 
was located in the eleven westernmost states, and most of it was described 
by the General Land Office as arid, broken, mountainous, or grazing in 

It would be wrong to call this remaining acreage, as so many have, the 
"land no one wanted." Many western ranchers still depended on the 
remaining public domain to support their herds. They had no right to these 
lands, but used the range for all it was worth. "It was," as the Forest Service's 
Chief of Grazing, Will C. Barnes, put it in 1926, "a clear case of first come, 
first served and the devil take the hindmost." Never assured use of the same 
range year after year, ranchers crowded and allowed overgrazing of public 
lands and, by doing so, were destroying the foundation upon which their 
ranches were built. 

Crowding and overgrazing the public domain had been a long-term 
problem for the western livestock industry. As early as the 1 870s, there was 
more livestock than the range could provide for. Cattle ranchers first tried 
to use livestock associations and organized roundups to control the 
situation. The coming of sheepherders and farmers, however, complicated 

Grazing the 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Law of 1916 







Third Public 


matters. Ranchers, as pointed out earlier, began fencing the range with 
barbed wire to keep others out and gain control of scarce water sources 
through the use of fraudulent land entries. The federal government, 
however, ordered the fences down and investigated the illegal claims. 

The root of the ranchers' problem was that the federal government was 
not meeting their needs. Stockraisers had to have more than 1 60 acres of 
range for their herds. By 1900, some ranchers were advocating a grazing 
lease system for public lands, and in 1905, Theodore Roosevelt's Public 
Lands Commission seconded the recommendation. Opposition to the 
proposal was strong and Roosevelt's effort to enact such a law in 1907 was 
rejected by Congress. 

In 1916, Congress decided that the answer to the public lands grazing 
problem was not leasing but larger homesteads. The Stockraising 
Homestead Law allowed individuals to enter 640 acres (one section) of 
public land chiefly valuable for grazing and the cultivation of forage crops. 
Settlers had to reside on the land and make improvements equal to a $1.25 
an acre. All coal and other minerals were reserved to the United States. 
Those who had already made entry under other homestead laws could make 
additional entries until their holdings equalled 640 acres. 

The new law offered great hope. In its first year of operation, about 
60,000 applications were filed for some 20 million acres of public land. 
Most of the entries, however, had to be suspended until the public lands 
could be classified as to their character as grazing lands. 

Within a few years, attitudes had changed. Agricultural economists 
agreed that a section of land was inadequate to support enough livestock for 
a family ranch. By 1923, the General Land Office contended that few 
making entry under the law could comply with the law's requirements in 
good faith. Another policy was needed. 

Grazing policy debate in the 1920s focused on a leasing system for the 
public domain. As important as the question of what type of lease 
arrangement would be provided was the question of who would administer 
the policy: the Department of the Interior or the Agriculture Department. 
Rivalry between the departments was keen, but in 1924 Interior gained the 
edge after the Forest Service alienated ranchers with a proposal to raise 
national forest grazing fees. 

In 1928, Congress established the Mizpah-Pumpkin Creek Grazing 
District in southeastern Montana under the direction of the Interior. The 
reserve comprised just over 100,000 acres of federal, state, Northern Pacific 
Railway Company, and private lands. Congress provided for the leasing of 
public lands to an association of ranchers who proposed to block ownership 
and ensure conservative grazing. Congress hoped this experiment would 
indicate the policy direction they should pursue. 

Before the Mizpah-Pumpkin Creek Grazing District could do that, 
however, President Herbert Hoover proposed giving the remaining vacant, 
unappropriated, and unreserved public lands to the states. Hoover felt the 
states could better manage the remaining public domain and in 1930 
established a Committee on the Conservation and Administration of the 


Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 

Public Domain. In its 1931 report, this third public lands commission 
supported the Hoover initiative, and called for the cession of the public 
lands. Overwhelming opposition to the proposition, both in the East and the 
West, killed the recommendation. 

The rejection of the Hoover proposal gave the leasing idea new life. The 
Mizpah-Pumpkin Creek Grazing District was so successful, that ranchers 
from across the West petitioned Congress and the Department of the Interior 
to create similar grazing reserves in their areas. Supporters of leasing, 
however, wanted a law that applied to all public lands. 

Led first by Congressman Don Colton of Utah and then by 
Congressman Edward Taylor of Colorado, general grazing lease bills were 
introduced, but opposition to them was strong. The deadlock was not broken 
until 1934, when Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes threatened to 
withdraw the public lands and begin regulating grazing under his own 
authority. This, along with a worsening drought in the West, forced the 
opposition to capitulate. In signing the Taylor Grazing Act, President 
Franklin D. Roosevelt declared it "a great forward step in the interests of 
conservation, which will prove of benefit not only to those engaged in the 
livestock industry, but also the nation as a whole." 

The Taylor Grazing Act sought "to stop injury to the public grazing 
lands [excluding Alaska] by preventing overgrazing and soil deterioration; 
to provide for their orderly use, improvement, and development; [and] to 
stabilize the livestock industry dependent upon the public range" through 
lease of the public domain to stockraisers. Pending the "final disposition" 
of the public lands, the Secretary of the Interior was permitted to place 80 
million acres of public land chiefly valuable for grazing and forage crops 
into grazing districts. Section 3 of the law provided for the lease of grazing 
district lands to landowners and homesteaders in or adjacent to the reserves 
first and the issuance of 1 to 10 year leases. The public lands within grazing 
districts were withdrawn from nonmineral entry, but lands classified as 
valuable for agricultural development under Section 7 could, at the 
Secretary's discretion, be opened to homesteading. Private lands within the 
grazing reserves could be exchanged for outside public lands. Isolated and 
disconnected tracts of public land no larger than 640 acres could now be sold 
to facilitate district administration, an effort to consolidate federal and 
private land holdings. Public lands outside grazing districts could, under 
Section 15, be leased to ranchers with contiguous property. 

After signing the law, President Franklin D. Roosevelt withdrew from 
nonmineral entry all vacant, unreserved, and unappropriated public lands in 
the West so that grazing districts could be set aside and the remaining public 
lands classified as to their best use. 

Grazing Issue 


Grazing Act 

of 1934 


Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes created a Division of Grazing Division of 
within his department to administer the grazing districts created under the Grazing 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


Range Use 

Taylor Grazing Act. To head the division, he selected Farrington "Ferry" 
Carpenter, a northwestern Colorado rancher who had studied law at 
Harvard and Princeton. 

Immediately after his appointment, Carpenter set up a series of local 
and state meetings with ranchers and state officials to discuss grazing policy 
and to determine grazing district 
boundaries. The first district was 
established in Wyoming on March 20, 
1935. Others followed in California, 
Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, 
New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah. By 
June 1935, more than 65 million acres 
had been incorporated into grazing 

Ranchers recommended the 
establishment of 50 grazing districts 
covering 142 million acres, 62 million 
more than authorized under the Taylor 
Grazing Act. Congress consented to 
this recommendation in 1936. 
Eventually, the acreage limitation was 
entirely eliminated. 

With the creation of grazing districts, rules and regulations to control 
grazing use had to be promulgated. In granting grazing permits to ranchers, 
the first priority was to those who had adequate private land to support their 
herds when not using the public range and who had a history of range 
experience. Others would be given permits using criteria that weighed 
property ownership and traditional use. For the privilege of using the public 
lands, ranchers and sheepherders were assessed a fee of 5 cents per animal 

Farrington Carpenter 

New Mexico Grazing District No. 6's advisory board allocating use of the public range inl936 


Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 

Areas included in Taylor Grazing Districts, January 1937 

unit month (AUM), which was judged to be the cost of feeding one cow, one 
horse, or five sheep for 1 month. 

To help administer the grazing districts, Carpenter set up district 
advisory boards. From these boards, he sought advice and 
recommendations on district grazing boundaries, range conditions, and the 
apportionment of public rangelands among users. This "home rule on the 
range" was successful and ensured the cooperation and help of ranchers in 
implementing the Taylor Grazing Act. 

Congress gave the district advisory boards legal status in 1939. The 
following year, a National Advisory Board Council composed of district 





Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by Richard Rutledge 
Director, U.S. Grazing Service 

Editor's Note: Grazing Service Director Richard Rutledge 
sought to establish an effective conservation agency. To 
achieve this, he setforthprinciples of conduct for his District 
Graziers. Here are some of the principles. 

SELF RELIANCE — There is often the tendency upon re- 
ceiving a tough assignment to push it aside and wait until you 
can ask the boss a lot of questions concerning the way he 
wants the job done. This results in procrastination and in a 
leaning attitude on the part of the doer. Stand on your own 
feet and take responsibility. 

ORGANIZATIONAL ATTITUDE — No organization can be successful if cliques or jeal- 
ousies exist. These things tend to retard and to break down the spirit of the organization. 
Likewise, feuds and personal fights are extremely detrimental and are bound to react upon 
someone. Troublemakers have no place in the organization. Rating officers must take 
recognition of such things. The ability to get along with and work with others, and the attitude 
toward others, are important factors in efficiency determination. 

PUBLIC SERVICE — Let's get firmly fixed in our minds at the outset that we are public 
servants, employed by the public and paid by the public from funds provided by taxation in 
some form. We are responsible to the entire public and are not bureaucratic bosses to work 
our will upon die public as we see fit. 

SHARP PRACTICES — There can be no place in an administrator's thoughts or actions for 
anything that approaches sharp practices. Stockmen are usually not as well informed as the 
administrator. Many times they are trusting, depending upon the administrator. There should 
be no tendency toward scheming around or taking advantage of lack of information or 
ignorance. Your actions should always be square, with equity and fairness. 

MIXING — This is somewhat akin to friendliness, although it goes farther. It is very 
necessary that an administrator mix with or contact all kinds of people, meetings, associa- 
tions, church groups, and others. Be a part of the community. 

SELF JUSTIFICATION— One of the very worst habits that an administrator can fall into is 
that of trying to justify his actions under all circumstances. If an administrator has made a 
mistake, the thing to do is to face the situation and correct the action. An administrator can 
lose the respect and confidence of his users very quickly by adopting an attitude of self- 

C APRICIOUSNESS — The administrator should avoid actions which might be termed capri- 
cious. Any funny notion or foolish idea, or snap judgement, may take the turn of capricious- 
ness. Keep your feet on the ground and remember that you are business men [sic], doing 


Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 

board representatives was organized, and later state advisory boards came 
into being. 

In administering the grazing districts, Carpenter sought both to 
conserve and to restore the range. To do this, he enlisted the assistance of 
the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC workers developed 
watering sources to more evenly distribute livestock on the range and 
erected fencing for better range management. CCC crews also worked on 
rodent and insect control, soil erosion measures, and fought fires. 

Secretary Ickes, who had disliked Farrington Carpenter from the 
beginning, finally fired him in 1939 and replaced him with Richard H. 
Rutledge. Under the new director, a former Forest Service employee, the 
Division of Grazing was renamed the U.S. Grazing Service and its 
headquarters transferred to Salt Lake City in 1941. 

CCC and the 
Public Range 


The Taylor Grazing Act gave the General Land Office new 
responsibilities. Its previous function had primarily been to dispose of 
public lands and minerals. Now the GLO had authority to manage these 

The Secretary of the Interior gave the GLO responsibility for 
administering the leasing of rangelands outside the grazing districts as 
provided by the Taylor Grazing Act. It also handled all land exchanges, land 
sales, settlement entries, and mineral leasing within the grazing districts. 
The largest responsibility given to the GLO, however, was the classification 
of public lands to further the conservation and development of public land 
resources outside grazing districts. 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt's executive order of November 1934 
directed that all remaining public lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, 
Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South 
Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming be temporarily withdrawn, investigated for 
possible inclusion in grazing districts, and classified for agricultural values. 
Public lands could not be allocated until their best and highest use had been 
determined. In February 1935, the order was extended to include public 
lands in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, 
Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Washington, and 

The move toward conservation required a major reorganization of the 
GLO. It was no longer just a disposal agency. A Range Development 
Service was created in 1939 to plan and oversee construction of range 
improvements. The inventory and classification of public lands went to a 
Branch of Planning, Use, and Protection, while a Branch of Research and 
Administration aided conservation efforts by abstracting agency land 
records so that federal land and mineral interests could be identified. 
Transfer of the Interior Department's Division of Investigations to the GLO 
in 1942 enabled the agency to better investigate illegal use of public lands. 









Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 




The Oregon and California Revested Lands Sustained Yield 
Management Act of August 28, 1937 gave the General Land Office even 
more conservation responsibilities. The revested lands had been granted in 
1866 to the Oregon and California (O&C) Railroad Company for 
construction of a line from Portland to the California border. Congress 
stipulated in 1869 that the 3.7 million acres granted the railroad had to be 
sold in tracts no larger than 1 60 acres to actual settlers and for no more than 
$2.50 an acre. The company and its successors ignored the conditions; so, 
in 1916, after lengthy litigation, Congress revoked title to more than 2 
million acres of the grant. In 1919, the federal government reclaimed 
another 93,000 acres from the nearby Coos Bay Wagon Road Grant. 

Revested lands of the Oregon and California Railroad and the Coos Bay Wagon Road 



of the O&C 


The revested lands had some of the best timber stands in the United 
States. Naturally, the Forest Service wanted jurisdiction over the former 
land grant lands, but Congress gave it to the General Land Office because 
of the ill will Oregonians had toward the Forest Service. The GLO's 
mandate was to classify the revested lands in terms of their value for power 
sites, agriculture, or timber. Lands were then to be disposed of accordingly, 
although, trees on timberlands had be cut before the land itself was sold. 
Revenues from the lands and timber sold were to be divided among the 
federal government, Oregon, and the counties in which the lands were 

The GLO immediately began classifying the O&C lands with a small 
staff of surveyors and timber cruisers. As timberlands were identified, they 


Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 

were offered for sale at auction to the highest bidders, who then had 1 years 
to cut the timber. Timber sales were disappointing over the next 20 years 
and the GLO came under increasing criticism for its management of the 

The Oregon and California Revested Lands Sustained Yield 
Management Act of 1937 sought to enhance the GLO's administration of 
the O&C lands. The law called for implementation of a sustained yield 
cutting program (lumber production would not exceed forest regeneration), 
so that continuous forest production could be assured. Lands could be used 
for grazing and recreation, and watersheds, wildlife, and other resources 
were to be protected. Receipts from the sale of timber were generously 
shared with counties having O&C lands. 

An O&C Revested Lands Administration was placed under the General 
Land Office in 1938 to implement the act, and Walter Horning was 
appointed chief forester. Under his guidance, district offices were 
established, timber cutting regulations written, rights-of-way acquired, and 
timber inventory work begun. 

Along with the establishment of the O&C Administration, Secretary of 
the Interior Harold Ickes appointed an O&C Advisory Board. The board 
represented state government, county, lumber, and public interests and 
advised the O&C Administration's chief foresteron policy matters. District 
advisory boards were also established. 

To supplement the O&C Administration's meager budget, several 
Civilian Conservation Corps camps were assigned to the revested lands. 
CCC enrollees constructed roads, planted trees, worked on insect control, 
and fought fires. This work did much to conserve and improve the 
management of O&C lands. 

?flww«4»* r '* ~* 

Civilian Conservation Corps Camp in the O&C area of Oregon 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


Land Apart 


Mining Laws 

Townsite and 
Other Laws 


and Other 



The General Land Office's new conservation program also included 
public lands in Alaska. Alaska was truly the United States' last frontier; the 
region had long been ignored, and little of its 378 million acres developed. 
Alaska was a land apart. None of the public land laws of the contiguous 
United States applied to Alaska, unless expressly provided. 

There had been no public interest in acquiring Alaska before its 
purchase in 1 867. After the area was bought a few hardy Americans rushed 
north to take advantage of whatever opportunities the new territory might 
offer. Commissioner of the General Land Office Joseph S. Wilson spoke of 
Alaska's potential in 1 868. He estimated 150,000 acres of good agricultural 
land existed and noted deposits of gold, silver, copper, coal, and other 
minerals. Wilson recommended that the public land system be extended to 
Alaska so "settlers, present and prospective, may enjoy the privileges 
similar to those conceded to our people elsewhere in the public domain." 

Congress paid no attention to Alaska until the discovery of gold in the 
early 1880s. The Act of May 17, 1884 extended the mining laws to the 
region and established a local land office to handle mining claim patent 
applications. That was, however, all Congress chose to do, for it then 
declared that "nothing contained in [the] Act shall be construed to put in 
force in said district the general land laws of the United States." 

Two years later Commissioner of the General Land Office William A. 
J. Sparks still saw no need to change the situation. "No information," he 
pointed out, "indicates either the necessity or expediency of extending the 
public land laws over the territory at present." Sparks noted that only one 
mineral application had been filed and the value of Alaska's agricultural 
lands was questionable. He felt it best to hold the region for future 
occupation. Congress agreed, but did in 1 89 1 , provide for the establishment 
of townsites and 160-acre trade and manufacturing sites. 

The Klondike discovery in 1896, which brought thousands of gold 
seekers north, forced Congress to extend other public land laws to Alaska. 
The Act of May 14, 1898 granted railroad rights-of-way, allowed timber 
cutting, and permitted entry of 80-acre tracts under the Homestead Law. 
The public land survey system was extended to the region in 1899, and the 
year after that, the Coal Land Law of 1 873 was also implemented. 

The new laws had little impact on Alaska. By 1914, fewer than 200 
Homestead applications had been filed and little of the territory's coal had 
been mined. To encourage the settlement and development of Alaska, 
Congress that year funded construction of a railroad from the Pacific 
coastline to Fairbanks and provided for the lease of coal deposits. Neither 
action achieved the intended result; however, construction of the Alaska 
Railroad, completed in 1923, did lead to the founding of Anchorage. 

The federally sponsored Alaska Resources Committee reported to 
Congress in 1938 on the resources and potential development of the 
territory. Committee members pointed out that there was no population 
pressure nor raw resource demand requiring rapid development. Alaska's 


Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 

GLO auction of Anchorage townsites in July 1915 

resources, however, did need protection until development. This was 
particularly true for timber and the committee stated that "establishment of 
a fire-protection organization on the open public domain [was] an essential 
first step in.. .bringing the public-land resources under a reasonable degree 
of control." 

The General Land Office responded to the Alaska Resources 
Committee report by gathering information on the economic resources of 
Alaska. The agency also looked at the protection of the Territory's 
resources, and in 1939, persuaded Congress to appropriate funds for fire 
suppression in Alaska. This resulted in the creation of the Alaskan Fire 
Control Service. 

The Alaskan Fire Control Service (AFCS) was a bare-bones operation. 
It had a chief forester and 10 permanent staff members. During the summer 
it was augmented by temporary fire guards and later with CCC crews. The 
vastness of Alaska, however, restricted most fire suppression work to areas 
accessible by railroad or highway. 

GLO in 

Alaska Fire 


The coming of war had a significant impact on the activities of the 
General Land Office and the Grazing Service. Both agencies were looking 
at ways they could contribute to the national defense program. They tried 
to continue their conservation efforts on the public lands, but this became 
increasingly difficult when America entered into World War II. 

The General Land Office and the Grazing Service found themselves 
understaffed and underfunded. Civilian Conservation Corps camps were 

War's Impact 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by Roger R. Robinson 
Former Director, Boise Interagency Fire Center 

The Congress authorized the establishment of the Alaskan Fire Control Service (AFCS) 
beginning July 1, 1939 in the USDI under the aegis of the General Land Office. Its mission: 
the detection and suppression of wild forest and range fires on the Public Lands in the 
Territory of Alaska. 

Western and interior Alaska for years had suffered from large fires burning unchecked during 
its 5 to 6 month fire season; fires started by trappers, miners, farmers and generally careless 
travelers. It was not until AFCS had been in operation a year that it was found lightning was 
in some years a major cause! 

Fifty years ago relatively few people in the contiguous states knew anything about Alaska and 
most of their "facts" were wrong! The quirk of fate: Secretary Ickes on his honeymoon trip 
in 1938 visited Alaska and was confronted by Alaskans and shown the ravages of wildfires 
and the ever-present threat to the cities and homes of the pioneers. Anchorage had to build 
a major fire break (600 feet wide and 3 miles long) to protect itself from fires started by the 
government-owned Alaska Railroad. Secretary Ickes was impressed and upon his return to 
Washington pushed for the establishment of a firefighting agency in Alaska. 

The head office was set up in Anchorage under W. J. McDonald, Chief, R. R. Robinson, 
Associate Chief, and C. W. Butler, Chief Clerk. Two stenos, a mechanic, and a warehouse- 
man rounded out the Anchorage operation. Fairbanks District had a fire control officer, a 
mechanic, a warehouseman and a steno. A very small amount of equipment and 10 temporary 
fire guards completed the roster. Although we were responsible for detection and suppression 
of fires on some 125 million acres, we obviously could do little except work on fires along 
the few miles of road around Anchorage and Fairbanks. Our major effort was getting to know 
the country and trying to find out what, where and how the fire control job could be effectively 
accomplished. We also had to begin an intensive education campaign to prevent fires. 

With the start of World War II the Congress cut appropriations for all "old line agencies" — 
for FY 1941 we received $27,000! We survived only because all Civilian Conservation Corps 
(CCC) activities on Alaska's public lands lands were turned over to the AFCS in the fall of 
1940. Their funds and personnel were used by us until the CCC was terminated in 1942. 

Beginning in 1940, the Alaska Defense Command was establishing a military presence 
throughout Alaska. The Army realized the importance of fire control in all military areas — 
not only for its installations, munition dumps, etc., but also the real necessity to keep the vital 
air lanes to Alaska free of smoke. We developed specially trained and equipped fire crews 
and had aircraft assigned as needed for transport to the back country. AFCS, young as we 
were, became a leader in the use of aircraft in fire suppression. 

AFCS survived the war years up to 1946, at which time the BLM was created by combining 
the General Land Office and the Grazing Service. Alaska became a separate region within 
the BLM and the AFCS became the Division of Forestry. 


Prologue: The Public Domain from 1 776-1946 

closed in 1942 and the work of enrollees had to be abandoned. For the 
Grazing Service, this meant a halt to range improvements and a 
reorganization of their firefighting program. The GLO replaced its CCC 
camps on the O&C with Public Service Camps staffed with conscientious 
objectors, and the Alaskan Fire Control Service received invaluable 
assistance from the Army. But still conservation of the public lands 
suffered. Livestock trespasses increased on public rangelands and timber 
harvesting on the O&C lands went above allowable levels in an effort to 
meet wartime demands. 

As the end of the war neared, the GLO and the Grazing Service began 
to look at ways to resurrect conservation efforts. The General Land Office's 
postwar policy called for "continued management under progressive 
conservation policies for.. .in no other way [could] the domestic demands 
for maximum beneficial use of the land and resources of the public domain, 
adequately be met." To accomplish that, the GLO argued that new laws had 
to be provided. It recommended a review of the public land laws and a 
congressional restatement of the nation's public land policy. It also called 
for authority to lease acquired mineral estates, a uniform trespass law, and 
the decentralization of administrative and adjudication functions to 
regional offices. 

The General Land Office was particularly concerned with Alaska. 
Construction of the Alaska Highway during the war had made the Territory 
more accessible. Military and civilian personnel who had gone to Alaska 
were expected to stay. The GLO believed its jurisdiction over much of 
Alaska's land made it responsible for the orderly development of the 
Territory. It asked for land classification authority and laws better suited to 
Alaska's conditions. 

Postwar Plans 

Alaska Plans 


Grazing Service officials also concerned themselves with postwar 
policies. They wanted to reinstitute range studies and range improvement 
projects. Their efforts to do this, however, were hampered by congressional 

The Grazing Service problems came from its effort to raise grazing fees. 
The initial fee of 5 cents per animal unit month (AUM) had been reasonable 
in the mid- 1930s when poor economic conditions prevailed, but prosperity 
had returned to the livestock industry by the eve of World War II. In 1941, 
a Grazing Service study showed that the 5 -cent fee was considerably below 
that charged for private and state lands and one-sixth that charged by the 
national forests. The Grazing Service recommended tripling its existing fee. 

Ranchers using grazing district lands opposed the proposal. Resistance 
was particularly strong in Nevada, where ranchers had just lost a suit before 
the U.S Supreme Court demanding that the Grazing Service be restrained 
from interfering with their free use of the public range. Faced with this 
opposition, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes backed off the proposed 
fee increase. 

Grazing Fee 

Fee Increase 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Fee Increase 

Grazing Fee 




The appointment of Clarence Forsling as Grazing Service Director in 
1944 resurrected the grazing fee issue. Like his predecessor Rutledge, 
Forsling came from the Forest Service and viewed the 1941 fee increase 
proposal as fair when compared with that of the Forest S6rvice. He asked 
the National Advisory Board Council to agree to a 1941 fee increase but the 
board turned him down cold. 

Forsling was not without allies in his call for a fee increase. The House 
of Representatives' Appropriations Committee favored the proposal. 
Appropriations for administration of the grazing districts appeared high to 
many legislators and they wanted the Grazing Service to cover most of its 
own expenses through the fees it collected. Senator Pat McCarren of 
Nevada and other westerners in the Senate opposed such an idea. 

By 1946, the Grazing Service was caught between a House committee 
demanding a fee increase and western senators warning against it. The 
trapped Grazing Service decided not to pursue the matter further. The 
House Appropriations Committee reacted by cutting the agency's funding 
to little more than $200,000, one-eighth of the Grazing Service's 
requirements. Senator McCarren felt the reduction too drastic. He wanted 
the Grazing Service subservient, but did not want it destroyed. He worked 
to have the budget increased to half of what the agency had requested. This 
appropriation forced the Grazing Service to cut its personnel from 250 to 86 
and to close 1 1 of its 60 district grazing offices. 




Plan No. 3 of 


A New 

As the Grazing Service's relations worsened with Congress, Interior 
officials looked at merging it with the General Land Office. Both agencies 
were responsible for grazing issues, but the division of duties was awkward. 
The Grazing Service dealt primarily with grazing policy, while the General 
Land Office handled settlement, land sale, land exchange, and mineral 
entries in the grazing districts. The GLO also administered grazing lands 
outside grazing districts, a task the Grazing Service could better handle. 
Both agencies were responsible for land classification and planning within 
grazing districts, and consequently, both competed for funds to do the work. 
By integrating the agencies' responsibilities, more effective management 
of the public land's resources could be achieved through better utilization 
of skills and experience. Yet, a departmental committee, seeing no need for 
reorganization, recommended against the proposal in late 1945. 

In January 1946 Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, perhaps 
concerned over the Grazing Service's troubles with Congress, decided to 
again recommend a merger. In May, President Harry S. Truman forwarded 
the proposal to Congress as part of his Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1946. 

By law, the proposed merger could only be prevented if both houses of 
Congress passed nonconcurrcnt resolutions. The House of Representatives 
did this, but the Senate, after much debate, did not. On July 16, 1946, the 
Grazing Service and the General Land Office became the Bureau of Land 


Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 

Management, and "with that date," notes historian E. Louise Peffer, 
"there... opened 'a new chapter in the history of... [public] land 
administration in the United States."' 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


There are several good general public land history overviews. 
Benjamin Hibbard's A History of the Public Land Policies (1924) is quite 
helpful in sorting out the numerous land laws and their requirements. The 
Lure of the Land: A Social History of the Public Lands from the Articles of 
Confederation to the New Deal (1970) by Everett Dick is written for general 
readers, as is Roy M. Robbins', Our Landed Heritage: The Public Domain, 
1776-1970 (Revised edition, 1976). The authoritative History of Public 
Land Law Development (1968) written by Paul Gates is mandatory reading 
for anyone truly interested in the history of public land policy. 

For books with readings on various aspects of public land policy, see 
The Public Lands : Studies in the History of the Public Domain ( 1 962) edited 
by Vernon Castensen and Paul Gates, ed., Public Land Policies: 
Management and Disposal (1979). 

On the early aspects of public land policy, Malcolm J. Rohrbough's The 
Land Office Business: The Settlement and Administration of American 
Public Lands, 1789-1837 (1968) is outstanding. On military land bounties, 
see Jerry O'Callaghan's, "The War Veteran and the Public Lands," in The 
Public Lands: Studies in the History of the Public Domain (1962), edited by 
Vernon Carstensen. 

On the General Land Office and its operation, see Malcolm 
Rohrbough's, "The General Land Office, 1812-1826: An Administrative 
Study," Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 1963; F. H. White's, 
"The Administration of the General Land Office, 1812-1911," Ph.D. 
dissertation, Harvard University, 1912 and Milton Conover's, The General 
Land Office: Its History, Activities and Organization (1923). 

Closely intertwined with public land questions has been the federal 
government's policy toward Native American possession of land. Francis 
Paul Prucha's two volume The Great Father: The United States 
Government and the American Indians (1984) is a comprehensive look at 
federal Indian policy. 

The process of surveying the public lands is a subject of interest to 
many. For an instruction to the subject, readers should refer to Joseph 
Ernst's, With Compass and Chain (1979); Lola Cazier's, Surveys and 
Surveyors of the Public Domain, 1785-1975 (ca. 1975); and C. Albert 
White's,/! His tory of the Rectangular Survey System (1982). The impact of 
the rectangular survey system on the environment is well addressed by 
Hildegard Binder Johnson in Order Upon the Land: The U.S. Rectangular 
Land Survey and the Upper Mississippi Country (1976). 

The federal government's grants of land to the states was an important 
feature of public land policy. Of interest here is Matthais Orfield's, Federal 
Land Grants to the States with Special Reference to Minnesota (1915). 

Grants of public lands for the construction of railroads is a topic that has 
attracted the attention of numerous historians. A few of the works available 


Prologue: The Public Domain from 1776-1946 

are Carter Goodrich's, Government Promotion of American Canals and 
Railroads, 1800-1890 (1960); Thomas E. Root's, Railroad Land Grants 
from Canals to Transcontinentals (1986); William S. Greever's, Arid 
Domain: The Santa Fe Railway and Its Western Land Grant (1954); and 
Ross Cotroneo's, The History of the Northern Pacific Land Grant, 1900- 
1952 (1979). 

Private land claims and grants have not received the attention they 
deserve. Claims that are a consequence of early land acquisitions of the 
United States' are discussed by Paul Gates' "Private Land Claims in the 
South," in Public Land Policies: Management and Disposal (1979) edited 
by Paul Gates. Mexican and Spanish grants in New Mexico are taken up by 
Victor Westphall in Mercedes Reales: Hispanic Land Grants of the Upper 
Rio Grande Region (1983). 

The settlement laws and their operation in the later half of the nineteenth 
century are discussed in numerous books and articles. Those interested in 
this subject might consider starting with "The Homestead Law in an 
Incongruous Land System" by Paul Gates in The Public Lands: Studies in 
the History of the Public Domain ( 1 962) edited by Vernon Carstensen. Also 
good is JohnT. Ganoe's, "The Desert Land Act in Operation, 1877-1891," 
in Public Land Policies: Management and Disposal (1979) edited by Paul 
Gates. Harold Durham's Government Handout: A Study in the 
Administration of the Public Lands, 1875-1891 (1970) is indispensable to 
serious students of public land policy. For homesteading after 1900, see 
Mary W. M. Hargreaves', Dry Farming in the Northern Great Plains, 1900- 
1925 (1957); Paula M. Nelson's, After the West was Won: Homesteaders 
and Town-Builders in Western South Dakota, 1900-1917 (1986); and 
Barbara Allen's, Homesteading the High Desert (1987). 

Few histories have been written on the administration and disposition 
of the public domain within their borders. Some of those that have been 
written are Paul Gates' Fifty Million Acres: Conflicts Over Kansas Land 
Policy, 1854-1890 (1954); The Public Domain in New Mexico, 1854-1891 
(1965) by Victor Westphall; Stephen Strausberg's, Federal Stewardship on 
the (Indiana) Frontier (1979); and The Disposition of the Public Domain in 
Oregon (1979) by Jerry O'Callaghan. 

Mineral policy is discussed by Robert W. Swenson in "Legal Aspects 
of Mineral Resources Exploitation" in Paul Gates' History of Public Land 
Law Development (1968), and in Public Domain — Private Dominion: A 
History of Public Mineral Policy in America (1985) by Carl Mayer and 
George Riley. Petroleum policy is taken up by John Ise in The United States 
Oil Policy (1926). On early federal government geological investigations 
and the U.S. Geological Survey, see Richard A. Bartlett's, Great Surveys of 
the American West (1953); Wallace Stegner's, Beyond the Hundredth 
Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West ( 1 954); 
and Mary C. Rabbitt's, Minerals, Lands, and Geology for the Common 
Defense and General Welfare: A History ... of the U.S. Geological Survey, 
Before 1879-1939, 3 vols. (1979, 1980, 1986). 

Irrigation and water in the West are addressed by Donald Worester's, 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Rivers of Empire: Water, Aridity and the Growth of the American West 
(1986); Donald J. Pisani's, From the Family Farm to Agribusiness: The 
Irrigation Crusade in California and the West, 1850-1931 (1984); and 
Michael C. Robinson's, Water for the West: The Bureau of Reclamation, 
1902-1977 (1979). 

On timber and forestry in general, refer to the work of Thomas Cox, 
Robert Maxwell, P. D. Thomas, and Joseph Malone, in This Well-Wooded 
Land: Americans and Their Forests from Colonial Times to the Present 
( 1985). On the development of national forest policy, see Samuel T.Dana's, 
Forest and Range Policy: Its Development in the United States (1956), and 
Harold Steen's, The U.S. Forest Service: A History (1976). The O&C 
revested lands are discussed in Elmo Richardson's BLM's Billion-Dollar 
Checkerboard: Managing the O&C Lands (1980) and the The O&C Lands 
(1981) by the University of Oregon's Bureau of Governmental Research 
and Service. 

The national park system is well-documented by Alfred Runte in his 
National Parks: The American Experience (1979). 

Some books on conservation policy are Samuel Hays', Conservation 
and the Gospel of Efficiency: The Progress Conservation Movement, 1890- 
1920 (1959); Elmo Richardson's, The Politics of Conservation: Crusades 
and Controversies, 1897-1913 (1962); E. Louise Peffer's, The Closing of 
the Public Domain: Disposal and Reservation Policies, 1900-50 (1951); 
Donald Swain's, Federal Conservation Policy, 1921-1933 (1963); and 
A.L. Riesch Owen, Conservation Under FDR (1983). 

Grazing of the public domain has received much attention from 
historians and other writers, particular reference should be made to George 
Rollins', The Struggle of the Cattleman, Sheepman, and Settler for Control 
of Lands in Wyoming, 1867-1910 (1979); E. Louise Peffer's, The Closing 
of the Public Domain: Disposal and Reservation Policies, 1900-50 (195 1); 
William Voigt, Jr.'s, Public Grazing Lands: Use and Misuse by Industry 
and Government (1976); Phillip O. Foss', Politics and Grass: The 
Administration of Grazing on the Public Domain (1960). A history of the 
Grazing Service is much needed but see Farrington R. Carpenter's, 
Confessional of a Maverick: An Autobiography (1984), and Marvin 
Klemme's reminiscence about his time with the agency in Home Rule on the 
Range: Early Days of the Grazing Service (1984). 

Public land policy toward Alaska has been largely ignored by 
historians. For some background, see Ernest Gruening's, State of Alaska 
(1958); William Hunt's, Alaska: A Bicentennial History (1976); and 
Melody Webb's, The Last Frontier: A History of the Yukon Basin of Canada 



The Bureau of Land Management, 



I frankly say. ..that the very title of the buneau raises a very big question mark in my mind. 

It seems to me that the very purpose to be subserved is to change the historical policy of the 

United States from one of holding the public lands for transfer to ownership under private 

persons, to one of proprietary handling on the part of the United States government. 

— U.S. Senator Guy Cordon, Oregon 
Congressional Record, July 13, 1946 

Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


The Bureau of Land Management 


The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from 1946 to 1960 was an 
agency in search of an identity. The executive reorganization creating the 
Bureau simply merged the General Land Office (GLO) and Grazing 
Service. BLM had no new mandate, only the authorities and functions of its 

The first years found the agency struggling to survive. It was hindered 
Overview in its organization effort and haunted by the Grazing Service's fee increase 
debacle. There was serious question as to whether the agency would 

In 1948, a new Director, Marion Clawson, brought life to BLM. 
Clawson laid the foundation for effective public land and resource 
management. BLM decentralized administrative and resource 
management functions, recognized resource interrelationships, and 
stressed the importance of land classification and planning to multiple use 

Clawson was succeeded in 1953 by Edward Woozley. The new 
Director's conservation philosophy differed from that held by Clawson, but 
the basic thrust of better management through decentralization and multiple 
use development remained. By the end of Woozley's 8-year tenure, BLM 
had matured into a professionally competent land managing agency. 


Plan No. 3 
Act of 1946 

No Mandate 

The Bureau of Land Management came into being when the General 
Land Office and Grazing Service ceased to exist — the direct result of the 
Reorganization Plan No. 3 Act of 1946. To head the new agency, a Director 
was to be appointed by the Secretary of the Interior. Unlike predecessors in 
the GLO and Grazing Service, who were presidential appointees, the new 
agency chief was to be selected under the classified civil service system. 
Also to be appointed were an Associate Director and "so many Assistant 
Directors.. .as may be necessary." 

The Reorganization Plan, however, did not provide a mandate for the 
newly formed agency. BLM was simply placed under the Secretary of the 
Interior and "the functions of the General Land Office and Grazing 
Service.. .consolidated to form a new agency." The Bureau, therefore, had 
to continue administering the public lands using the outmoded and often 
conflicting mandates of the 3,500 laws passed during the previous 150 
years. The major statute directing BLM activities was the Taylor Grazing 
Act, which provided for the administration of grazing "pending final 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 

disposition" of the public lands. "This [was] hardly a firm basis," as natural 
resources professor Sally Fairfax points out, "for a comprehensive land 
planning management scheme." 

Another problem facing the Bureau was the integration of the General 
Land Office and Grazing Service into one organization. BLM resulted from 
a merging of the oldest federal agency with one of the youngest — two 
agencies with different organizational structures and philosophies. GLO 
was centralized, with most authority placed with the commissioner; the 
Grazing Service was decentralized. The General Land Office handled a 
variety of resources, while the Grazing Service dealt primarily with range 
management. Creating a new organization out of these two agencies posed 
a challenge. 

GLO and 





BLM struggled in its first two years to simply survive. A new 
organizational structure was outlined, but attempts to put it in place were 
hindered by congressional opposition. The nightmare of the Grazing 
Service appropriations debacle also haunted the agency. 

Fred W. Johnson, who had been Commissioner of the General Land 
Office, was selected by Secretary of the Interior J. A. Krug in 1946 to be the 
Bureau's temporary Director. Johnson was in poor health and did not 
promise to be an effective leader, but Krug undoubtedly felt selecting the 
Grazing Service's Clarence Forsling would only have continued 
congressional attacks. To assist Johnson, Krug turned again to the former 
GLO. He appointed Joel D. Wolfsohn, the former Assistant Commissioner 
who had directed GLO activities for Johnson, to be Acting Associate 
Director, and Thomas Havell, a long-time GLO employee having good 
relations with Capital Hill, to be temporary Assistant Director. To 
Wolfsohn and Havell would go the task of molding BLM into an agency. 
BLM's organization called not only for the integration of General Land 

Office and Grazing Service 
functions and personnel, but 
also for improved public land 
administration and public 
service through decentralized 
operations. A three-tiered 
organization was outlined 
which featured a Washington 
office headquarters and 
regional and district field 
offices. Headquarters 

arranged itself around the 
Bureau's major functions — 
range management, timber 
BLM organizational structure in 1946 management, land and mineral 


Associate Director 


Assistant Director 

Branch of Timber and 
Resource Management 

Branch of Adjudication 

Branch Range 

Branch of Classification 
and Planning 

Branch of Engineering 

Branch of 

and Construe 




BLM's First 



Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

adjudication, classification and planning, survey and engineering, and 
administrative services. The field offices were organized around the 
Grazing Service's district office system, as well as the GLO's Oregon and 
California (O&C) forestry offices and land and survey offices. With this 
type of organizational structure, the agency could maintain on-the-ground 
management of public lands and resources; public land users could get on- 
the-spot handling of administrative matters. 

The key to BLM's proposed organization, however, was the regional 
offices. The Bureau of Land Management hoped, as director Johnson stated, 
to furnish "better service.. .through regionalized handling of cases 
...affording wider opportunity than ever before for resource development 
under prudent conservation safeguards." This meant delegating 
Washington office adjudication functions to regional administrators. 

BLM regions in 1946 

Opposition to 


Seven regional offices were established, each responsible for more than 
one state. These were used in place of the single-state setup employed by the 
Grazing Service so that state politicial and economic interests could not 
dominate regional personnel. Congress, however, prevented the transfer of 
responsibilities from Washington, arguing that the Bureau's regional 
offices would strengthen bureaucratic control over public lands and user 
groups and hinder congressional oversight of the agency's actions. 
Therefore, in the Interior Appropriations Act of 1 947, Congress banned the 
"transfer or removal of any function or duties.. .heretofore held and 
administered in [Washington]... unless specific approval [had] been given 
by Congress." 

Congress addressed another major concern in the Appropriations Act. 
The very name of the agency — the Bureau of Land Management — aroused 
suspicion among some western politicians. They believed, as Senator Guy 
Cordon of Oregon did, that the agency's title implied abandoning the 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 

nation's long-held policy of transferring public lands to individuals and 
private interests in favor of a policy of federal retention and proprietorship. 
Congress, consequently, directed Bureau funds be used for the "disposal," 
as well as the management and protection of, public lands, something that 
had not been done in recent General Land Office and Grazing Service 
appropriations acts. 

The Bureau's organizational efforts also suffered from the Grazing 
Service fee increase controversy. Congressional appropriation cuts gutted 
the range management program. With 86 personnel to oversee 150 million 
acres of grazing land, BLM could not effectively process grazing 
applications, monitor range conditions, prevent trespass, or build range 

The grazing district advisory boards, fearing a breakdown of order on 
the public range, stepped in. Using monies received from Taylor Grazing 
Act fees for range improvements, the advisory boards paid the salaries of 
BLM range employees. Having the advisory boards pay agency employee 
salaries put the Bureau in an awkward position. "In effect," as political 
scientist Phillip O. Foss notes, "the regulators were being supervised by 
those who were to be regulated." BLM needed to be independent if it was 
to perform its duties properly. 

Secretary of the Interior Krug understood this. From talks with western 
livestock interests, he knew that ranchers would accept a slight grazing fee 
increase. To study the situation, Krug appointed California rancher Rex L. 
Nicholson. Nicholson concluded that BLM needed only 242 people to 
adequately manage the public range. He recommended increasing the 
grazing fee from 5 cents to 8 cents per animal unit month (AUM). Two cents 
were to go for range improvements, with the remaining 6 cents to be 
distributed between the states and the Federal treasury. The federal 
government's share of the fee covered 70 percent of range administration 
costs — those functions benefiting only users. The remaining 30 percent — 
programs of general public good — would be funded by Congress. The 
National Advisory Board Council accepted Nicholson's formula and, in 
1947, Congress gave its approval to the grazing fee increase and distribution 

The plan, however, did not help BLM. Congress could not adequately 
fund programs not covered by grazing fees. This, and the fact that 
Nicholson's administrative cost estimates were too low, left the Bureau's 
range management program little better off than before. 

Thus, the Bureau's beginnings were not auspicious. Its inability to 
implement an organizational structure and secure adequate funding made it 
ineffective. Secretary of the Interior Krug called BLM "one of the.. .worst 
run Bureaus" within his Department. Employee morale was low. Many 
employees, particularly in Washington, looked upon their work as simply 
a job, and few had a sense of dedication. The future looked bleak, but a new 
Director would soon turn the situation around. 

Solution to 
Grazing Fee 





Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


Search for 



Mandate for 




The Bureau of Land Management was invigorated in 1948 with the 
appointment of a new Director. Western ranchers and congressional 
supporters did not feel Fred W. Johnson was sufficiently attuned to their 
needs and demands. Secretary of the Interior Krug agreed new leadership 
was needed but rejected suggestions of livestock interests for a new 
Director. He wanted someone who would be accepted by stockraisers, yet 
would exercise independence. He turned to Marion Clawson. 

Clawson was BLM's regional administrator in San Francisco. He had 
joined BLM in 1946 after many years with the Department of Agriculture's 
Bureau of Agricultural Economics. A Nevadan, Clawson had an 
undergraduate degree in agricultural economics from the University of 
Nevada and a doctorate in economics from Harvard. He also understood the 
ranching business. His father had a small ranch in Nevada and his 
dissertation at Harvard had been on the economics of the western livestock 

Clawson did not think his work at BLM was challenging and was 
disheartened by the agency's inability to decentralize and secure adequate 
funding for its programs. He was searching for other work when Joel 
Wolfsohn, who was resigning, asked him if he wanted the Associate 
Director position with BLM. Clawson declined, commenting that he would 
not be able to accomplish anything unless he was Director. Soon afterwards, 
Interior Secretary Krug offered him the directorship. 

The Secretary bluntly told Clawson that he considered the Bureau of 
Land Management to be poorly managed. Krug made it clear to Clawson 
that the agency needed new blood if change was to be made. Clawson had 
his mandate — to transform BLM. 

Clawson's first task was to reorganize the Bureau. Assistant Director 
Thomas Havell had to go because of his "old GLO" attitude. So did the 
chiefs of most of the branches. Clawson replaced these people with 
individuals from outside BLM. For Assistant Director, and later Associate 
Director, he selected Roscoe Bell, who had worked many years in the 
Department of Agriculture. Clawson filled a number of other positions with 
people he had known in the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. 

Director Clawson pursued decentralization. He believed strongly that 
decentralization was essential if BLM was to become effective, efficient, 
and responsive. Clawson convinced Congress in 1948 to remove most of its 
restrictions against delegating authority to the regional administrators. The 
next year, no restrictions were imposed; by the end of fiscal year 1949, 85 
percent of the Bureau's adjudicative functions had been decentralized to the 
regional and district offices. 

Clawson's reorganization made Washington responsible for overall 
supervision and development of long-range management and conservation 
programs for the public lands. The Director's technical expertise rested with 
the Washington office's six branches, which he transformed into divisions 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 

and subdivided into other branches. 

Beneath the Washington Office came the regions. Regional 
Administrators were directly responsible to the Director. The regions 
handled most case adjudications and developed the long-term plans for the 
public lands and resources within their jurisdictions. Regional staffs were 
organized along lines similar to those of the Washington Office and 
provided technical advice to district offices. 

Bureau of Land Management 



Office of 
the Chief Counsel 

Information Officer 

Associate Director 

Assistant Director 

Division of Administration 

• Branch of Personnel 

• Branch of Management Planning 

■ Branch of Administrative Services 
1 Branch of Budget and Finance 
1 Branch of Records 

Division of Cadastral Engineering 
• Branch of Surveys 

Division of Adjudication 

' Branch of Land Use and Disposal 
1 Branch of Minerals 

Division of Range Management 

Branch of Grazing Supervision and Surveys 
Branch of Soil and Moisture Conservation 

Division of Forestry 

• Branch of Forest Management 

• Branch of Forest Protection 

Division of Land Planning 

■ Branch of Research 

■ Branch of Land Classification 

BLM organizational structure in 1950 

BLM regions in 1950 


Opportunity and Challenge: the Story ofBLM 

Marion Clawson 


by Marion Clawson 

Editor's Note: Marion Clawson began his career with the 
Bureau of Agricultural Economics in 1929 after graduating 
from the University of Nevada, Reno, with a degree in 
agriculture. He moved to BLM in January 1947 as its first 
Regional Administrator in San Erancisco. The following 
statement has been excerpted from a chapter about 
Clawson' s BLM experience in his latest book, From Sage- 
brush to Sage — The Making of a Natural Resource 
Econoinisl (Washington, DC, Ana Publications; 1987). 

The live years from March 1948 to April 1953 when I was 

Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was the 

most exciting, rewarding and sometimes frustrating period 

in my life. We had many interesting bureaucratic adventures, from surviving drastic cuts in 

our budget to obtaining BLM's first supplemental appropriations for range and forestry pro- 

grams. My main contributions to the Bureau were to make its work more efficient and to 

decentralize its operations to regional and field offices. 

In December 1 947, Assistant Secretary Davidson asked me to come to Washington to discuss 
my becoming Associate Director of BLM. I replied that I was unwilling to consider the job, 
because real power in the Bureau lay with Tom Havcll and this was a case where one had to 
be the unquestioned top officer or not take on any responsibility of lop leadership. 

I met with Secretary of the Interior Julius Krug and his Under Secretary forcxactly 16 minutes 
and was offered the position of Director. After I accepted, Krug said that I would have to bring 
some new blood into the Bureau. I agreed, but then added that it was more important to get 
some old bknxl out, and he said, "It can be done." So thai was my charter. 

About noon on 4 March 1948, 1 was sworn in as Director of BLM. Within a month the House 
and Senate held budget hearings. In all my professional life I have never had a more difficult 
and strenuous time than the two hours or so I spent before the appropriations subcommittee 
in the Senate, when our appropriation request was under review. I was fighting to get funds 
restored to the levels we had asked, to save the regional offices (which I thought were basic), 
and to get permission to decentralize. I thought the latter was extremely important for a 
number of reasons: decentralization would put routine decisions nearer the land and the 
people they affected, it would put the same routine decisions in the hands of new people who 
were anxious to make a good showing, and it simply was inefficient to have paper constantly 
flowing from the field to Washington and back again. 

In the end, we emerged as well as could be expected, given that a struggle was underway 
between a Congress of one party and a President of the other. As I recall, we got our requested 
funds with a provision that was immensely helpful to me — Washington office funds were cut 
and field funds were increased by the same amount. There was no prohibition against 
decentralization and our regional offices survived. 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 

During the years I served as Director, the demand for nearly all natural resource commodities 
rose and this had a substantial impact on the public lands. Range management, soil and 
moisture conservation, oil and gas leasing, and O&C forest management were major 
programs during my tenure. The number and variety of applications for use of the public lands 
or for records about them never ceased to amaze me. For instance, we experienced a six-fold 
increase in applications for oil and gas leases. 

Our staff developed a new application form that greatly speeded the leasing process and 
prevented clever applicants or agents from tying up lands by filing slightly conflicting 
applications (thereby creating nearly cost-free options to lease the land). I can still recall the 
glee with which we and Assistant Secretary Davidson received outraged complaints from 
applicants that we had become too efficient and it was costing them money! 

Appropriations are the lifeblood of every federal agency. Policy is as often made and/or 
implemented in decisions about appropriations as it is in decisions about substantive 
legislation. Two incidents produced breakthroughs in getting adequate funding for BLM. 

The spread of a poisonous weed, halogeten, into various western grazing areas enabled us, 
with the approval of the Assistant Secretary, to obtain a supplemental appropriation to reseed 
depleted ranges — which was desirable irrespective of halogeten. In the end, we got some- 
thing in excess of $2 million supplemental — and this at a time when our regular appropriation 
was around $6 million. With that, BLM launched a large-scale program of reseeding 
rangelands. This increase went into our "base" in all the other years I remained at BLM. 

The other breakthrough concerned timber access roads in the O&C area of Oregon. The GLO 
and BLM never had appropriations to build access roads but were dependent upon timber 
purchasers building roads. This lack of roads often meant a greatly reduced competition and 
hence a much lower price for the timber sold. 

One winter an unusually severe storm along the Oregon coast blew down a great deal of 
timber. In some of these areas an infestation of bugs was already killing live trees. These bugs 
could thrive even better on blowdown timber and from that base more aggressively infest 
stands of live trees. The solution was to harvest both blowdown and intermingled standing 
live trees, as rapidly as possible; and for this access roads were needed. We got a supplemental 
road-building appropriation of something between $2 and $3 million: this was the beginning 
of BLM's road-building in the O&C area. 

In the area of communications, I utilized staff meetings as a major management tool. I started 
them early on because I genuinely wanted our divisions to know what was going on and I was 
convinced that an informed Director's staff meeting the last hour of the day on every 
Wednesday — the hour chosen so that people who talked too long held everyone to overtime. 
A newsletter was then distributed to all employees. 

At this time I formulated my second law of administration: keep them galloping. If one can 
provide real leadership, develop goals and likely means of reaching those goals, and generally 
run both a tight and an innovative organization, there is much less time for petty gossiping 
and dilatory actions. I did my best to keep BLM galloping. As with the actual running of wild 
horses, a certain amount of whooping and hollering was necessary. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Multiple Use 

Inventory and 

Four types of field offices operated beneath the regional level: district 
land offices, public survey offices, district grazing offices, and district 
forestry offices. Here BLM carried out most of its management, protection, 
and disposal activities. A manager headed each office and was accountable 
to the regulating Regional Administrator. 

Clawson also gave BLM a sense of mission and purpose by instituting 
a "dynamic program for resource management." Key to this agenda was the 
concept of multiple use management. "Multiple use," according to 
Clawson, "is [a] system under which the same area of land is used 
simultaneously for two or more purposes, often by two or more different 
persons or groups." These uses could be complementary, or, as was most 
often the case, competitive with one another. Clawson thought multiple use 
management desirable and wanted it practiced on BLM-administered 

Multiple use management offered BLM managers considerable 
opportunity and challenge. Land use decisions had to take into account not 
only the benefits and impacts of an activity but also their interactions with 
other activities. Managers now needed to know the resource values of the 
public lands under their jurisdiction. This required inventory and 
classification actions, so that the best and highest priority uses of public 
lands, along with the most advantageous land-tenure arrangements to 
promote them, could be determined. 

Clawson emphasized land inventory and classification. The Taylor 
Grazing Act directed that lands in grazing districts be classified before 
disposal, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt's general withdrawal orders 
of 1934 and 1935 directed the same be done (except in Alaska) for public 
lands outside the grazing districts. The Grazing Service and General Land 
Office had inaugurated studies, but little of the public domain was 
inventoried and classified. The classification work generally responded to 
individual applications for land disposal, but case-by-case classifications 


i 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 r 

1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 

Fiscal Year 

Acres classified under Taylor Grazing Act authority 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 

did not give BLM managers an overall picture of an area's character and 
economics. This required more general classifications of larger areas. 

The Missouri River Basin Project, an interagency land inventory effort 
begun after World War II, helped facilitate the agency's gathering of 
resource data. BLM also inaugurated smaller area studies, usually small 
drainage basins where BLM had complex land and resource use problems 
to resolve. The data gathered was then, as Clawson noted, integrated into the 
development of long-term range plans "wherein all tenure, protection, 
rehabilitation, development, and use activities are properly and effectively 
balanced and implemented.. .initiated by BLM, rather than in response to 
uncoordinated private demands for public lands and resources." 

Carrying out that objective required considerable coordination. 
Clawson wanted to address that need through what he called "area 
administration" to achieve better and cheaper management of the public 
lands. Area administration meant having in a district office all resource and 
technical specialists necessary for district managers to make informed, 

effective, and efficient land disposal and use 

Clawson's "area administration" 
concept, which he introduced in the summer 
of 1952 and his emphasis on decentralization, 
land inventory and classification, along with 
other innovations, pushed BLM toward 
becoming a viable conservation and multiple 
resource agency. By the end of his tenure in 
1953, range and timber lands were better 
BLM emblem introduced by administered, wildlife and recreation 
Marion Clawson in 1953 resources were given added attention, and the 

illustrated the agency's management of lands and minerals programs 

development and was improved. 

management program 





Clawson knew successful implementation of his conservation policy 
depended much on what BLM could accomplish on the public range. The 
lands needed improvement, and this could only be accomplished through 
better supervision and the institution of rangeland plans and programs. 
However, these required more employees and additional funding. Clawson 
knew that and attacked the problem head on. 

The limited number of range management personnel threatened to 
forestall any attempts at improving the program. Nicholson's 1947 grazing 
proposal had stated that at least 242 personnel would be needed for BLM to 
carry out its Taylor Grazing Act responsibilities. Despite implementation of 
the 8-cent per AUM fee increase that Nicholson said was necessary to cover 
range administration costs, BLM in 1948 had little more than half the 



Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Grazing Fee 






Depletion and 

the Halogeton 


personnel (123) recommended. The following year the staff had climbed to 
182, but by 1950 the number had dropped to 176. 

BLM's grazing monitoring program, trespass enforcement efforts, and 
range condition studies were hampered. Clawson had to correct the 
situation if any progress was to be made. The 8-cent an AUM fee was simply 
not providing sufficient funding and an increase was obviously needed. He 
persuaded the National Advisory Board Council to raise the AUM fee by 4 
cents so that he could increase his range management staff to 250 
employees. In 1951, grazing district fees were raised to 12 cents per AUM, 
with 2 cents of the fee still going for construction of range improvements. 

The fee increase allowed BLM to hire new employees, many of whom 
had college degrees in range management, and enabled the Bureau to 
intensify its range management and supervision efforts. Detection of 
grazing trespasses increased. Range resource inventories and surveys of 
dependent ranch properties were begun in all regions to facilitate 
adjudication of range use privileges. All of this helped BLM's efforts to stop 
deterioration of the public range. 

Range inventory work was particularly important. Knowing the 
condition of public rangelands, BLM could take steps to prevent further 
range deterioration. District managers could reduce the number of livestock 
grazed, although stockraisers opposed these reductions and usually 
succeeded in stopping the grazing cuts. Range improvement and 
rehabilitation plans could be implemented. Fencing and water source 
development permitted livestock to be distributed in a manner that 
prevented overgrazing, while reseeding gave new life to depleted range. 

BLM financed the construction of range improvements with the 2 cents 
received from the AUM fee assessed ranchers and from appropriations 
under the National Soil Conservation Act for soil erosion control projects. 
Ranchers and grazing advisory boards also contributed money, materials, 
and labor. BLM, however, could still do little more than maintain existing 
projects. Director Clawson in his 1951 report Rebuilding the Federal Range 
asked Congress for more funds, noting that more than 38,000 stock- 
watering improvements and 68,000 miles of fence, along with other items, 
needed to be constructed. However, Congress made no effort to provide the 
additional funding Clawson wanted. 

Congress responded more favorably to BLM efforts to rehabilitate the 
range. The Director in his 195 1 report on public range conditions noted that 
22 million acres of public land needed revegetation. He was again unable 
to get direct funding for this effort, but he was indirectly successful by 
getting Congress to enact the Halogeton Control Act of 1952. 

Halogeton is a weed poisonous to livestock that establishes itself on 
range in poor condition. The weed, however, can be controlled through 
maintenance and redevelopment of healthy ranges. The Halogeton Control 
Act sought to arrest halogeton 's rapid spread across the West and, 
consequently, provided BLM with badly needed range restoration funds. 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 


A. D. Brownfield, Chairman, National Advisory Board Council 
From Our Public Lands, October 1951 

The range advisory boards of the B ureau of Land Management have proven in 1 5 or 1 6 years 
operation valuable adjuncts in the administration of the Taylor Grazing Act. The system was 
inaugurated by the first Director of Grazing with success.. .so much so, that Congress soon 
took notice of the good results, and by amendment to the act, made the provision for advisory 
boards permanent. 

The Plan for selecting these advisors is in keeping with our traditional American way of 
choosing Government representatives — that is, by election — and thus had support from the 
beginning. At the outset, and in compliance with the law, in order to determine who would 
be allowed to vote, districts were set up in each State, and each livestock producer therein was 
allowed a vote for the advisors of his own districts. 

Instituting the system by popular election allayed suspicion and facilitated cooperation by 
those users of the public range (or public domain) who had never known regulation, or 
considered any law necessary for their protection and guidance in the proper use of their fee 
lands and leased lands. It brought into the various local offices for assistance to the Secretary 
representative men from "the wide open spaces" better qualified to advise and recommend 
on proper division and use of the range, and furnish information on its past use by contending 
applicants, and the approximate carrying capacities of the range. It would have taken years 
of research and untold quantities of taxpayers' money to have gathered the information that 
was quickly furnished by these professionals of the range. Very little dissatisfaction has ever 
been registered against the system, proof of which lies in the fact that in all of the 10 Western 
States in which there are grazing districts, citizens of no one of these States have petitioned 
for a change to something different. 

The method of administrative procedure was extremely simple and applicable to range use. 
All the range was first rated as to proper number of stock to be grazed, and seasons of use. 
Each applicant for a permit was required to furnish accurate information as to his owned or 
controlled land and water; he also had to state the numbers and class of livestock grazed on 
the public domain prior to the passage of the Taylor Act. Where reductions in numbers were 
found necessary to protect the range such reductions were on a prorated basis in community 
allotments. In individual allotments, reduction was made to fit the carrying capacity. 

In the absence of basic data on range surveys, classification, topography, etc., these advisory 
board members furnished timely information until such work could be started and completed 
(much of which has not as yet been finished). Moreover, they serve as popular unpaid 
policemen for regulating grazing, trespassing, and other abuses. They also give information 
on necessary range improvement facilities — such as fences, wells, dams, reservoirs, stock 
trails, driveways, cooperative plans with State agencies, land exchanges, soil and moisture 
expenditures, and many other programs. 

Decentralized government has made and kept America strong. There is no substitute for it. 
The same has proven true for good land management. Personal contact with the users of the 
range through the advisory board system has made "home rule" on the range work. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


O&C Policy 

New O&C 

The Bureau's forestry program went through significant changes 
during the Clawson years. BLM introduced a new sales policy for the 
revested Oregon and California land grant lands in western Oregon that 
increased competition and laid the foundation for better management. It 
also inaugurated the management of public domain timberlands. 

BLM found management of the O&C revested lands in western Oregon 
particularly challenging. When Marion Clawson became Director, the 
regional administrator in Portland, Walter Horning, who was formerly 
Chief of the General Land Office's O&C Administration, remained 
committed to a policy of achieving sustained-yield management for both 
O&C forests and private timberlands through cooperative agreements. The 
plan allowed private landowners to purchase stumpage rights to the 
intermixed O&C forest lands at appraised value and under 100-year 
cooperative agreements if they consented to follow sustained yield 
requirements developed by BLM. 

The 100- year cooperative agreements plan, however, brought strong 
criticism. Many interests, particularly timber operators who did not own 
lands within the O&C area, felt the plan would give cooperators a 
monopoly. Revenues from O&C timber sales would decline, it was argued, 
and landowners would have no incentive to permit multiple use or 
implement good forestry practices. The protest, led by the Association of 
O&C counties, forced BLM to abandon Homing's plan in 1948 . 

Director Clawson, as part of his 1948 reorganization effort, replaced 
Walter Horning with Dan Goldy. Goldy was an economist who had worked 
in the Interior Department on O&C matters. He felt that the timber operators 
within the O&C area had the monopoly. Goldy, fervently believing in 
competition and equal opportunity, developed a timber policy that would 
end the monopolistic and poor timber practices encouraged on adjoining 
private lands. 

First, potential buyers had to be assured of access to BLM's O&C tracts. 
Most access roads within the area were privately built and controlled. The 
Bureau instituted a policy requiring the builders to give BLM and its timber 
purchasers reciprocal use of rights-of-way across adjacent private lands. 
BLM also sought to end its dependence on private access roads through 
construction of its own road system. This would not only give O&C timber 
purchasers access rights, but would also lead to better timber conservation 
practices because BLM could then build into areas of overripe or damaged 
timber in need of harvesting. The Bureau began building its road system in 
1950. The following year, when extensive fires and wind storms damaged 
and downed more than 700 million board feet of timber, Director Clawson 
was able to get additional appropriations from Congress to build more roads 
into the affected areas. 

Policy further called for timber companies to submit suggestions as to 
what lands should be offered for sale during the following year. In 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 

consultation with the district O&C advisory boards, BLM then developed 
a sales plan based on these suggestions and informed prospective buyers 
months before auction. 

The first competitive sales under the new policy came in 1950. The 
volume of sales jumped from 265 million board feet to nearly 396 million. 
During the following year, the volume sold remained the same as in 1950, 
but the price bid went from $4.8 million to $8.7 million. 


I 1 










600,000 - 



1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 

Fiscal Year 

O&C timber sales 1947-1960 



O 20,000,000 

10,000,000 - 

<rr ~: r " r ~\ 


:, : : ■' 


:.■ '■ 


. '■[.'■ 





: : : :^ : :i':': 


1| . 



i«i wm;- 








' . 

■'. ;■ ,: ■"■ 

1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 

Fiscal Year 

O&C timber sale values 

Other changes instituted during Clawson's tenure further enhanced 
BLM administration of O&C lands. The forestry staff in Oregon gave new 
emphasis to timber inventories. Inventories were essential to determine the 
amount of timber that could be cut. BLM began new inventories that not 
only calculated the volume of available timber but provided information on 
the age, quality, size, and the location of stands from roads and processors. 
The new data was used to develop management plans and helped BLM 
better determine how much timber could be sold each year on a sustained 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 







Forestry in 

yield basis. 

The most significant change, however, involved the O&C advisory 
boards. In 1948, the Department of the Interior and BLM reorganized the 
boards to promote broader public representation. Members now 
represented not only the timber industry, State of Oregon, and counties, but 
also labor, mining, agriculture, recreation, wildlife, and conservation 
groups. This action more closely reflected the multiple use character of 
O&C lands and gave BLM a broader management perspective. 

BLM also developed a forest policy for public lands outside the O&C 
area. There were an estimated 3 million acres of commercial forest lands 
and 25 million acres of woodland, exclusive of Alaska, on public lands. 
Prior to 1947, BLM had no authority to manage these lands. It could only 
dispose of the lands or remove dead-and-down timber to reduce fire danger. 
The Materials Act of 1947 changed this, permitting BLM to sell timber from 
public lands. 

BLM recognized public domain timber would not equal the volume or 
value of O&C timber, but because many of the stands were important to 
local economies, they too needed management. BLM, however, did not 
have foresters to oversee or administer these lands until 1949, when an 
increase in funding allowed BLM to place foresters in each regional office 
and a few grazing districts. Inventories subsequently began and sustained 
yield cutting plans were developed. 

BLM also pushed forestry efforts in Alaska. The Territory had 125 
million acres of public timberland. Stumpage from Alaska's public lands 
could be sold through the Act of May 14, 1898. The General Land Office's 
local land officers had handled timber sales until the responsibility was 
transferred in 1946 to the Alaskan Fire Control Service (AFCS). With the 
creation of the Bureau of Land Management, the AFCS became Alaska's 
Division of Forestry. Like the AFCS, it provided fire protection, controlled 
forest use, supervised timber sales, set up sustained yield forestry units, and 
encouraged new wood-using industries. The new Division, however, put 
more emphasis on timber inventory work. 



BLM Fire 

Fire prevention and suppression was an integral part of BLM's timber 
and range management programs. When Clawson became Director, the 
Bureau's fire program had changed little from that of the General Land 
Office and the Grazing Service. 

Fire suppression efforts under the GLO and Grazing Service largely 
depended on cooperative agreements with federal and state agencies and 
local protection organizations. Insufficient funds forced BLM to continue 
this practice on the nearly 6 million acres of forest land in California, Idaho, 
Montana, Minnesota, Arkansas, Washington, and Oregon. 

In other areas, BLM used its grazing and forestry district personnel to 
develop a fire suppression organization. District fire crews were established 
and could be supplemented, during large fires, with personnel from other 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 


To assist district crews, BLM in 1951 began purchasing 4-wheel-drive 
high-pressure pumper trucks. The vehicles, though few in number, quickly 
proved their value as two-person crews showed the pumpers' effectiveness 
in suppressing range fires. That same year, BLM also began installing high- 
frequency radio networks in an effort to decrease response time to fires and 
more effectively coordinate firefighting efforts. 

In Alaska, the Bureau did what it could to maintain the small, but well- 
organized Alaskan Fire Control Service it had inherited from the General 
Land Office. Firefighters in Alaska found themselves confronted with an 
increasing fire problem as settlement, tourism, and military activity 
increased after World War II. Fire control efforts, although hampered by 
Alaska's immense size and lack of access were aided by cooperative 
agreements with other federal departments and agencies. The U.S. Weather 
Bureau supplied forecasts and relayed emergencies, while military and 
Civil Aeronautics Authority aircraft aided in fire detection and the 
transportation of crews and equipment. 


Protection in 



The fire program's primary purpose was to protect forest and 
rangelands from damage and waste, but the program also benefited wildlife 
habitat. And the Taylor Grazing Act addressed the importance of wildlife 
on the public lands by opening grazing districts to hunting and fishing and 
allowing the Secretary of the Interior to work with state wildlife agencies 
in managing wildlife habitat. 

The Grazing Service took wildlife habitat into consideration and 
permitted wildlife interests to play an active role in administering the 
grazing districts in New Mexico and Oregon. New Mexico stockraisers 
included one wildlife representative on their advisory boards. By 1939, all 
district boards had wildlife representatives. The Grazing Service also 
worked closely with state and federal wildlife officials and hunting and 
fishing groups. 

BLM continued the Grazing Service policy toward wildlife. Wildlife 
habitat management was an important part of BLM's range program. 
District managers worked closely with their advisory board's wildlife 
representative and state officials in managing wildlife on public lands. 
Some states helped the Bureau in rangeland reseeding efforts, which 
increased forage for wildlife as well as for livestock. 

Service Policy 

Early BLM 


Recreation was another important resource on public lands. The 
Recreation Act of 1926 provided for the transfer and lease of recreational 
lands to state, territorial, and local governments if they were not needed by 
the federal government. 

Act of 1926 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Edwin "Moose" Zaidlicz in 1951. 


by Edwin Zaidlicz 
Former Montana State Director 

It was the bitterly cold winter of 1949 
when I joined BLM by replacing the 
first professional forester in the 
northern half of Alaska at Fairbanks. 
The forestry program was truly 
embryonic and our first responsibil- 
ity had to do with containing tundra 
fires and as need and time warranted, 
we processed fire wood permits. 

The Homestead Act was alive and 

well with our management authority 

and objective based on the land laws 

that encouraged land disposal. For a 

forester trained under the principle 

of long-term forest management under sustained uniform yield, a philosophical stress 

quickly developed. BLM appeared unready to accept long-term management of public land 

for any purpose. 

I soon found myself at odds with the man in the fine office across the street — the Fairbanks 
Land Office manager. Until I, as the "cheechako stump jumper" arrived, his role as a "Fed" 
was time-honored and respected. 

Then, during the next spring, Bob Robinson, our head forester in Anchorage, budgeted 
enough to hire three more foresters for Fairbanks. 

Our "strange breed of cats" group had few regulations, no manuals other than those for fire 
and fiscal management and almost no direct supervision. Communications with Anchorage 
involved very slow mail, emergency air flights or our "Mukluk telegraph," a system of in- 
house war surplus radios. 

Quickly we learned to use our own discretion rather than risk an undesirable and tardy 
decision from the south. We enjoyed a commonality of purpose, unlimited energy and 
enthusiasm, and an unavoidable need for creativity and innovation. State-of-the-art technical 
props included die radio, a Cessna 180 plane on floats or skis, a Polaroid Land camera and 
a handful of college text books. Undaunted, we "came out of the chute" by initiating 

1) The first timber inventory of interior Alaska by sampling stands along the Yukon, 
Porcupine, Tanana and Chena rivers. Even then I squirmed at our audacity and 
possible sampling error. The Cessna and an outboard river boat served for transpor- 
tation. Our aerial photography consisted of shots with hand-held cameras; 

2) A small tree nursery and a post- treatment experiment. Dr. Harold Lutz, a forest soils 
authority from Yale and Dr. Ray Taylor, Chief of the USFS Alaskan Research station 
visited us. We proudly demonstrated our Rube Goldberg watering system. Dr. 
Taylor, a genUe and kindly man, expressed guarded admiration for our initiative and 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 

novel operation. Dr. Lutz, a crusty pragmatist, made a more objective observation — 
"Your Herculean efforts will perhaps retard the cause of scientific forestry 100 

3) Having the full support of the Air Force and the use of their vast depot of heavy 
equipment to take charge of any threatening tundra fires, we did some dramatic 
improvisation. We dispersed eight D8 caterpillar tractors in two units under a "USFS 
one lick fire line approach." A serious fire was quickly controlled. We were then 
visited by Mr. Gustafson, Fire Chief of USFS in D.C. and Mr. Blackerby of the USFS 
Regional Office to study our "perma-frost fire control." Gustafson, clearly im- 
pressed, observed that our "fire trails could unquestionably be seen from the moon;" 

4) In an effort to improve the stagnant economy of our District, we got involved with 
a troubled Swedish homesteader to gather and process birch tree sap — much as is 
done on maple trees. While the syrup proved quite tasty, our new industry never 
displaced firewood cutting or muskrat trapping; 

5) During the winter of '50-'5 1 , Bob Robinson initiated the first formal timber inventory 
to undergird a possible timber operation in Alaska' s southern district on Windy Bay. 
Three foresters from Anchorage and I were flown into the tract by a WWII "Goose" 
piloted by Bob McCormick. We had a large double canvas tent, our personal gear, 
grub for 30 days and explicit instructions from Bob R. For emergency use we had 
a special surplus-parts radio. About the time McCormick waggled his wings in his 
departing flyover, we confirmed the radio didn't work. 

After 5 weeks, we completed our field sampling and were returned to civilization. Living in 
continual snowstorms and howling winds with three unwashed companions in a tent that 
served for cooking and living was an unforgettable experience and gave me a new meaning 
for the term "cabin fever." I did learn that it is possible to respect and admire another sharing 
the same traumatic circumstance. It was there that I made a life-long friend of the legendary 
Jim Scott. 

Perhaps the highlight of my forestry career in Alaska occurred in the fall of 1951 when I 
almost succeeded in putting my admirer, the Fairbanks Land Office Manager, in jail for a fire 
and game violation. The word of this "forestry action" quickly spread throughout Alaska and 
BLM. The manager was arraigned, fined and lost his game license. Shortly thereafter, he was 
actually promoted to a more desirable post in the States and I got the opportunity to transfer 
to the O & C in Roseburg, Oregon. 

My vivid recollection of those adventurous days of early Alaskan forestry highlight 
impressions of vast untapped resources, immense distances, unparalled natural beauty and 
the troubling insignificance of man's puny efforts to impact or manage any of the resources, 
especially timber and wildlife. Even our natural disasters were brutally intimidating; our 
1951 Porcupine River fire burned 2 million acres in what seemed like a couple of days. To 
simply map the burn area took 5 hours of flight in a Cessna 180. We had to carry 5-gallon 
tins of fuel to gas up on shallow duck lakes. 

Clearly the quality of humility in a neophyte forester is desirable and Mother Nature provides 
a dramatic setting in Alaska for developing it. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Lack of 





Small Tract 

BLM's lack of legislative authority to provide recreational 
opportunities did not dampen the agency's interest or efforts in recreation. 
Some BLM resource programs benefited recreationists indirectly — such as 
wildlife habitat management and access road construction. The Bureau's 
land classification program identified many potential sites for acquisition 
under the Recreation Act of 1926. In some areas, district personnel built 
facilities, such as camp and picnic grounds, even though they did not have 
the authority to do so. 

The increasing public demand for recreational opportunities after 
World War II was furthered by the Small Tract Act of 1938. This law, as 
amended, provided for the sale or lease of tracts not exceeding 5 acres that 
were determined to be chiefly valuable for recreational, residential, 
business, or community site purposes. In 1949 there were nearly 7,500 
Small Tract Act leases. Clawson commented that the Small Tract Act had 
become the law preferred by those seeking a home on the public domain. He 
was right. By 1952 the number of Small Tract Act leases had climbed to 
more than 25,000, and nearly 300 parcels had been sold for patent. 


War II Boom 

Alaska: Land 
of Promise 

The Small Tract Act was indicative of public land activity after World 
War II. Homestead, Desert Land, and other types of entries increased 
sharply. Interest was particularly high among veterans, who received 
preference in making entries, but BLM had to deny many of the applications 
because the lands entered were not suited to agricultural development. As 
Director Clawson stressed, public land policy since the Taylor Grazing Act 
of 1934 looked to "the management and protection — and selective, rather 
than summary disposal — of the approximately 778 million acres of public 
domain and their resources in [the] continental United States and Alaska." 
Statements such as this did not dissuade potential settlers; the lure of the 
public lands was too strong. 

Alaska experienced much of the boom. Thousands of military and 
civilian personnel sent to Alaska during World War II saw first-hand the 
opportunities Alaska had to offer, and many stayed to take advantage of the 
situation. Hundreds of others came after the war by way of the Alaska 
Highway, drawn by stories of the Territory's riches. 

Many who came to Alaska used the Homestead Law to acquire land; 
from 1946 to 1953 more than 3,300 such entries were made. Competing 
with the Homestead Law was the Small Tract Act. Extended to the Territory 
in 1945, Small Tract Act sites were used to acquire lands for homesites, 
weekend cabins, and businesses around Anchorage and Fairbanks. By 
1953, 600 sites had been sold and nearly 2,500 tracts were under lease. 

Settlement and development of Alaska, however, was retarded by the 
lack of survey. Surveys were needed to adjudicate applications for use and 
disposal of public lands, but at that time only 2.5 million acres, or 1 percent 
of the Territory, had been surveyed under the rectangular system. BLM 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 




800 - 



200 -\ 




[|] Homestead 

H Public Sales 

Small Tract Leasing 

1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 

Fiscal Year 

New land case actions in Alaska 1950-1960 

made surveys a high priority, but appropriations during Clawson's tenure 
permitted little more than 100,000 acres to be surveyed. 

Land classification in Alaska was another important issue. BLM 
wanted orderly settlement and development for the Territory. The Bureau, 
however, had no general land classification mandate in Alaska, and so, the 
agency made do with the few authorities it did have. 

Classifications required under the Small Tract Act were used to identify 
public lands values and control development around Anchorage, Fairbanks, 
and other Alaskan towns. The Alaska Public Sales Act of 1949 was also 
used to advantage. This law provided for the auction of 160-acre parcels of 
surveyed and unsurveyed lands to individuals and other interests who met 
certain criteria. Successful bidders were required to file a satisfactory plan 
of development for the tract and complete their project within 3 years or 
forfeit both the land and the money bid. In 1952, the Bureau, in cooperation 
with the Soil Conservation Service, launched a program of planned 
homestead development by identifying suitable lands and marking out farm 
units for prospective settlers. 

Land applications were also increasing in the "Lower 48." The 
Bureau's decentralization of land case adjudication to the regional offices 
helped speed processing, but the crush of applications was overwhelming. 

In response to the increasing backlog, BLM wrote new regulations to 
streamline the adjudication of cases. The Bureau also began developing a 
new land record system. Through a microfilming process, certain land 
records, such as patents, could be more easily used and more effectively 
preserved. BLM also created a Division of Lands from its adjudication and 
land planning divisions in 1951 in an effort to more effectively administer 
the lands program. 

Director Clawson called for a congressional review of public land laws. 
He pointed out, like the General Land Office had before him, that many of 
the laws under which the Bureau operated were "to a large degree outmoded 

Lower 48 



Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 




Oil & Gas 

and incoherent" and in need of revision. However, Congress felt that the 
policies did not need substantial revision. 


Development of federal minerals became increasingly important after 
World War II. Truman's Reorganization Plan No. 3 gave the Secretary of the 
Interior responsibility for all mineral activity on federal lands. The Bureau 
continued General Land Office functions by issuing leases and 
administering mining claims on the public lands. It also began overseeing 
the leasing of mineral estates acquired by the federal government with the 
passage of the Acquired Minerals Leasing Act in 1947. 

Oil and gas activity best reflected the new surge of mineral activity on 
the public lands. Petroleum companies had increased their lease and 
exploration for oil and gas during World War II and continued this activity 
after 1945. A boom in activity, however, did not come until 1950. That year 
alone saw 16,000 noncompetitive leases filed compared to the 4,000-a-year 
average during World War II. In 1 95 1 , BLM created a Division of Minerals 
at Washington headquarters to better handle the resulting workload. This 
action came at the right time. In that same year, an unprecedented boom in 
petroleum leasing came with the discovery of oil in the Williston Basin in 
North Dakota and Montana. The resulting "black gold fever" caused the 
number of new oil and gas lease applications to jump to nearly 32,000 in 
fiscal year 1952. 

1 50,000 

1 20.000 

8> 90,000 

-a Active Leases 

♦ Acres (millions) 

T ' I 


1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 

Fiscal Year 

Active Oil & Gas leases for public domain lands 1947-1960 

and Fraud 

Increased oil and gas leasing created many headaches for BLM, but the 
worst was the age-old problem of speculation and fraud. Through 
newspaper and magazine advertisements, oil and gas brokers appealed to 
the desire of people to get-rich-quick by offering to file 40-acre federal 
leases for them. "The practice," complained Director Clawson, "not only 
swamped land offices with thousands of applications, but retarded the 
orderly exploration for oil and gas." The Justice Department called the 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 

practices of the oil and gas brokers unethical but did not have sufficient 
evidence of misrepresentation to prosecute the filing firms. BLM did, 
however, try to end the problem by revising its regulations to prohibit the 
issuance of leases for less than 640 acres in areas outside producing units. 


By 1953, Marion Clawson had transformed the Bureau of Land 
Management into a multiple resource agency. As Director, he had been able 
to institute reorganization and policy changes with little controversy. The 
Bureau under Clawson also strengthened many programs through better 
funding and the hiring of additional people. Clawson established a firm 
foundation upon which the Bureau's resource programs could build and the 
agency's developing multiple use ethic could grow. It was a commendable 
job, but his land management philosophy differed from that of the new 
Eisenhower Administration; he was forced to leave the Bureau of Land 
Management in 1953. 



The Presidential election of 1952 swept Dwight Eisenhower and the 
Republican Party into the executive branch after a 20-year hiatus. 
Republicans were not hesitant in using their victory to reshape public land 
policy. They did not intend a wholesale dismantling of the conservation 
policies inaugurated by the Democrats, but they did seek to loosen the 
restrictions they felt Democratic conservation policy had placed in the way 
of private development of public lands and resources. 

"Partnership" was the key word of the Eisenhower Administration's 
public lands policy. "The best national resources program for America," 
stated Eisenhower in his first State of the Union Address, "will not result 
from exclusive dependence on federal bureaucracy. It will involve a 
partnership of the states and local communities, private citizens and the 
federal government, all working together." Eisenhower selected Douglas 
McKay, Governor of Oregon, as his Secretary of the Interior. McKay was 
more blunt in expressing the new Administration's public lands policy. 
After taking his new job, he declared, "we're here in the saddle as an 
administration representing business and industry." To accomplish this, 
McKay emphasized reduced bureaucracy, greater states' rights, and a freer 
hand for private interests. The new Secretary wanted agency chiefs who 
adhered to this philosophy and in McKay's view, Marion Clawson was not 
such a man. 

Clawson was viewed by the incoming Republicans as an advocate of 
central planning by government and as having the opinion that government 
could manage resources better than private interests. This led some 
Republicans to suspect Clawson of being a socialist. Clawson had to go; 


Gain the 
White House 






Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Secretary McKay asked the BLM Director to resign. Clawson refused, 
citing his civil service status required a reason for his removal. McKay 
found one: insubordination. 





Marion Qawson was replaced in May 1953 by Edward Woozley. 
Woozley, the commissioner for state lands in Idaho, supported the 
Eisenhower Administration's States' rights platform and pro business and 
industry stance. The Idahoan was also described by supporters as "capable, 
imaginative, and resolute." This was a man more to McKay's liking; 
however, Woozley did not meet the civil service requirements for Director 
and so had to serve as Bureau Administrator for the first year of his nearly 
8-year tenure. 

Among Woozley 's first actions was the reorganization of BLM. He and 
Secretary McKay felt the Bureau was too centralized, even after Clawson's 
restructuring. A committee comprising three Departmental employees and 
three members of the public agreed with the assessment. They concluded 
that there remained "too great a concentration of operations in the 
Washington and regional offices." 

Acting on the committee's recommendations, Washington 
headquarters was restricted to providing major policy direction to the field 
organization. The regional offices were reorganized into four Area 
Offices — not to be confused with Marion Gawson's "area administration" 
initiative — with Area Administrators having general administrative and 
supervisory responsibility over the activities within their jurisdictions. 

Most of the former regional office responsibilities went to a new 
organizational level called State Offices (except Alaska). These became the 
highest level of operations and implementation in the field, taking on 
adjudicative, land classification, and other land and resource functions. The 
State Supervisors in these offices dealt with state officials within their 
jurisdiction and developed long-range resource management and disposal 
programs. Along with their resource staffs, the State Supervisors also 
provided advice and technical direction to the District Offices. 

District Offices continued as the lowest organizational level. The 
District Land Offices maintained land status records and took applications 
for public lands and minerals. District Grazing and Forestry Offices handled 
applications for range use and timber cutting as well as other actions. 

Woozley, like Clawson before him, felt this decentralization of 
responsibilities and functions would bring public land management and 
decisionmaking closer to the user level, thus increasing efficiency and 
lowering administrative costs. The reorganization was implemented in 
1954, and BLM's structure changed very little during the remainder of 
Woozley's tenure. 

Woozley saw BLM as a business manager and felt that "the full worth 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 

\W Am i \ <m. 

>> AREA 1 I > 

Ja® — C L • 

fe • • M *t aA 



f\ • I v*^ ' 1 

k~- . /A? • 1 • 

J '~"T"*». 1 • 1 a 

YA ft AREA 2 • .•] • 


AREA 3 \ ^> V ' 


■5 \ •• K 

J X • 1 

\ x r-*— 4~?- 


X \ • 1 



^~ t?" 

^X^ | • 

\l AREA 4 1 

V*4 "A 1 

*J * A^ \ \ 

® Area Headquarters 

• State Offices 
a Land Offices 

• District Grazing Offices 

• District Forestry Offices 
■ OCS Office 

BLM reorganization of 1954 

of the valuable resources on the public lands may be realized with a 
minimum expense to the taxpayer and that through careful cooperation with 
private enterprise, these lands can produce the products on which local, 
state, and national economy depend." This outlook would characterize the 
Woozley years. 

BLM is a 


When Woozley became Administrator, the range management program 
again became a center of controversy. The Republican Party Platform for 
the 1952 Presidential election had called for legislation that would better 
define the rights of public land users and protect those rights against 
administrative interference. In line with that pronouncement, Republican 
Congressman Wesley D'Ewart introduced legislation aimed at making the 
privilege of grazing on public lands a legal right by guaranteeing grazing use 
and providing for judicial review of administrative decisions. 

Conservationists immediately attacked the D'Ewart bill. Montana 
Senator James Murray called it "another monumental giveaway" measure. 


Range Use 



Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by Edward Woozley 

Editor's Note: Edward Woozley came to BLM with the 
Eisenhower Administration in 1953 and helped shape Sec- 
retary of the Interior Douglas McKay's "Partnership in 
Conservation" policy. Woozley was suited to the challenge. 
He had been Idaho Land Commissioner and appraised land 
for the Idaho State Land Board and the Production Credit 
Corporation. In July 1960, Director Woozley wrote of the 
BLM' s accomplishments in the years since his appointment. 

We in the Bureau have been giving much thought to the 

future in recent months. Our look ahead certainly told us that 

there still remains much to be done in managing the Nation' s 

resources. But the enormity of the job ahead shouldn't cause us to lose sight of some of the 

achievements we have made in the past. The last seven years have been impressive. 

Edward Woozley 

For FY 1953 Congress appropriated slightly more than $ 14 million. For the year just ending 
the figure will be closer to $34 million, and the figure will probably be higher next year, if 
the various receipts from which we get a share, come up to expectations. 

Receipts too, give an idea of the growth that has been made. In 1953, the cumulative total of 
receipts by BLM and its predecessors over some 140 years reached the landmark figure of 
$ 1 billion. In the last seven years, that figure has been reached for the second time. In FY 1960 
alone our receipts will be approximately $375 million. 

Of course our growth cannot be measured in terms of money alone. In 1 953, a new record was 
set when 626 million board feet of timber was cut on O & C lands. For this past year the cut 
will be approximately a billion board feet. In 1 953 , we closed about 60,000 cases in our lands 
and minerals adjudication processes. When the final figures are totaled for 1960, the number 
of cases closed will be close to 220,000. Our classification and investigation program in the 
same period will show a gain of 35 percent over the 23,306 cases closed in 1953. In our 
cadastral survey program the total number of acres surveyed each year is now approaching 
2,000,000, an increase of about 16 percent over 1953. But the big jump comes in original 
surveys, where our present program calls for surveying more than twice the acreage surveyed 
in 1953. 

Statistics tell only part of our story. The Bureau, for example, has supported and helped 
prepare innumerable pieces of legislation advancing the cause of conservation and resource 
management. The 1954 amendment to the Recreation and Public Purposes Act has provided 
a tool of increasing importance to the Bureau in meeting the Nation's increasing demand for 
resources devoted to recreation and leisure time activity. The Outer Continental Shelf Act, 
passed in August 1953, already has returned to the U. S. Treasury more than $434 million, 
with an additional $300 million held in escrow pending final determination of its distribution 
by the Supreme Court. 

Another major legislative milestone was the passage in 1955 of Public Law 167, the most 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 

important piece of minerals legislation since the 1920 Mineral Leasing Act. Multiple use of 
surface resources, and the elimination of many serious conflicts between surface manage- 
ment and mining operations, became achievable realities as a result of the Bureau program 
developed under this law. 

While legislation is behind some of the changes in the Bureau's activity, major importance 
must be attached to those non-legislative changes which also have been instituted. The 
concept of a unified and coordinated program of resource management based on state 
boundaries, was a major purpose of our 1954 reorganization and the increased effectiveness 
of operations within the various states has proven the value of that move. 

Long range conservation programs tell a significant story of Bureau progress. The Bureau's 
reforestation program is a case in point. A comprehensive inventory in 1957 showed that 
more than 150,000 acres of western Oregon forest lands needed artificial reforesting. In that 
year the Bureau began a greatly accelerated forest land rehabilitation program and to date 
75,000 acres have been planted. This program will place cutover and burned lands in 
production 5 to 20 years sooner than nature's normal processes. 

Great strides have been made also in a variety of management activities. The deterioration 
of the public lands records through age and use threatened to make these vital records useless 
to future generations. Early recognition of this problem and the development of our long 
range records improvement project has enabled us to take an enormous step forward, in not 
only preserving mem but putting them in a form that adds greatly to the clarity and ease of 

Surveys of our land offices, our forestry programs, and the operation of our grazing districts 
have led to significant changes in the organization and management of our activities, thereby 
increasing their efficiency, and enhancing their ability to serve the public. 

Speeded operations through automation have become increasingly significant in recent 
years. We now acquire forest inventory data through automatic data processing in Oregon; 
bills are automatically prepared from punched paper tape in Cheyenne; a robot typing 
machine prepares answers to correspondence in Los Angeles; and photocopy and other 
reproducing equipment enables us to prepare almost instantaneously, copies of records and 
maps, from originals or from microfilm. 

Field techniques likewise have benefited from the adoption of new tools and equipment. The 
Bureau pioneered the program of fighting major fires in Alaska through airborne borate 
drops. Our engineering survey parties have achieved outstanding results through the use of 
helicopters, photogrammetry, and tellurometric equipment, the first truly major changes in 
surveying techniques in more than a century. 

In all, these have been eventful years. Progress hasn't always been as fast as we would like, 
but when we look back to where we have been, it is clear that we have made great strides. The 
road ahead looks more promising today than ever before. When we recall the idea that 
"What's past is prologue," it can be said that the future looks very bright. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 




The Department of the Interior could not even support the bill, and the 
legislation, as well as an amended version in 1954, was defeated. 

Woozley was sensitive to the debate on Capitol Hill and wanted to cool 
the controversy. Some ranchers complained that nearly half of them 
operated on public lands with only year-to-year leases; they wanted more 
secure tenures. Woozley addressed the problem by declaring it the Bureau's 
policy to give more than 90 percent of its range users 10-year grazing leases 
as fast as the necessary reappraisals of user leases would permit. 

Woozley, therefore, made range adjudication the range management 
program's highest priority. BLM's range staff stepped up work on range 
condition inventories and the surveying of private ranch properties to 
determine carrying capacities and grazing use privileges. The work was 
slow because of the limited staff, but the Bureau moved ahead and made 
great strides in adjudicating range privileges. 

Range inventory work near Dillon, Montana 


The reappraisals led to controversy. BLM grazing district managers, 
with "hard and cold facts" in hand, often reduced range use to levels more 
compatible with the new carrying capacity determinations. Stockraisers did 
not like the cuts and resisted BLM's efforts to impose them. BLM, however, 
did what it could to work out the disagreements and was usually successful 
in reducing range use where it was needed. 

Face-to-face dealings were important in these situations, but grazing 
district managers seldom had time to meet with each rancher individually. 
To overcome this problem in Idaho, State Supervisor J. Russell Penny 
began in 1957 to divide his grazing district offices into subunits. Each 
subunit was assigned to a "Division Manager" who was responsible for 
public relations and range management within his division. This forerunner 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 

to today's area manager concept was an unofficial innovation, but it worked 
well and helped ease the controversies that arose between BLM and 

BLM's range adjudication program was also aided by additional 
funding. The 12-centAUM fee secured by Marion Clawson in 1951 was not 
sufficient to fund the range management program. Woozley felt that tying 
grazing fees to the cost of administration handicapped BLM management 
efforts. He therefore advocated that the range management program be 
funded largely from appropriations. However, he still wanted ranchers to 
pay a portion of this cost and felt it fair to tie the fee charged them to the price 
they received for their livestock at market. 

Grazing Fees 1936-1960 
Taylor Grazing Act Lands 


Animal Unit Month Fee ($) 













He approached the National Advisory Board Council with the idea in 
early 1954. The group, after some months, agreed to the new grazing 
formula. The new fee would vary with the average price paid per pound for 
cattle and sheep in the eleven western states. Twenty-five percent of the fee 
was to go for range improvements. 

The fee for 1955, based on 1954 livestock prices, called for an increase 
from 12 cents to 18 cents per AUM. Director Woozley felt the 50 percent 
fee hike was too drastic and had the Secretary of the Interior agree to 
arbitrarily set the fee at 15 cents until 1957. Drought conditions in many 
parts of the West in 1957 delayed institution of the new grazing formula for 
another year. The fee for 1958, based on 1957 market prices, was 19 cents 
per AUM. In 1959 and 1960 the fee went up to 22 cents. 

By 1960, BLM expressed satisfaction with its range management 
accomplishments. The Bureau had made some mistakes in adjudicating the 
range, which had led to misuse and overgrazing, but overall range condition 
trends looked good to the agency. Three-quarters of the range was 
considered to be in fair to excellent condition. Range studies concluded that 
24 percent of the range was improving, while only 1 percent was declining. 

Professionalism in the range management program had also improved, 
partially due to the hiring of college-educated range conservationists. The 
improved administration was most evident in BLM's adjudication of range 
privileges. "The adjudication process," contends political scientist Paul J. 
Culhane, "was the most important local level manifestation of the 
professional maturation of the BLM in the 1950s." 

Grazing Fees 





Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


The Value of 

O&C Policy 


Forestry in the Bureau also went through important changes during 
these years. Woozley was impressed by the program's money-generating 
potential. In 1954, he commented that the "profit margin" of timber was 
proof that good forest management paid. As the O&C revested lands had the 
Bureau's most valuable timber stands, Woozley paid particular attention to 
the policy for those lands. 

Woozley was not keen on the competitive sales and rights-of-way 
program for the O&C. He regarded these policies as needless and 
controversial. The Director wanted to do away with both policies, but his 
efforts met with charges that BLM favored the big lumber companies. The 
outburst of protest led one BLM employee to remark that, while "the O&C 
lands are about 1 percent of the area managed by the [B] seems like 
they cause 50 percent of our headaches." BLM , therefore, left both policies 
in place, although it did initiate some regulation changes. 

While Woozley was not able to change BLM's competitive bidding 
policy, he did effect other changes. BLM in the O&C worked toward more 
effective "grass roots" level administration for better and faster service to 
the logging industry. District foresters were given more timber sales 
authority and overall administration was improved with the introduction of 
"unit foresters." Unit foresters were responsible for the resources in a 
subdivision of a forest district office. Each unit forester was provided a 
small staff to help with timber management plans, engineering, and other 

BLM eliminated marketing areas on the O&C. Marketing areas, an 
innovation introduced prior to the Bureau's creation, were designated zones 
where timber cut on the O&C had to processed. The concept was intended 
to protect the local lumber industry from outside competition, but shifts in 
local and national economies and the lumber industry's changing 
technology made the need for marketing areas unnecessary. 

BLM also altered timber management practices in response to county 
demands for increased annual allowable, sustained yield cuts. Restrictions 
limiting clear-cutting to 40-acre tracts so that new growth could be 
regenerated by natural seeding were abandoned, with larger area cuts and 
artificial regeneration methods being substituted. This allowed BLM to 
adjust the annual allowable cut from about 693 million board feet to more 
than 874 million. The agency also adopted new techniques for cruising and 
appraising timber by using computers. 

On the public domain, Woozley continued to expand BLM's 
management of timber and woodland resources. Public timberlands were 
still subject to disposal after classification for their highest use. The Bureau 
tried unsuccessfully to obtain Congressional authority to withdraw these 
lands from entry but did at least get the Timber and Stone Law repealed in 
1955. Despite the fact that these lands could be transferred to private 
ownership at any time, BLM recognized the importance of these lands to the 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 


§" 800,000 

* 600,000 



m 400,000 - ; 



3 200,000 - 

[g| O & C Lands 
gj Public Domain 




1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 

Calendar Year 

Timber production 1947-1960 

economic well-being of many local communities and carefully protected 
and managed the timbered public lands still in its custody. "In that way," the 
Bureau argued, it could "assure that anyone who may acquire them will 
receive them in productive condition." 

BLM, therefore, continued the public domain timber inventories 
initiated under Clawson, and they proved enlightening. BLM found the 
extent of its public domain timber resources to be greater than originally 
thought. Through the use of annual forestry plans, BLM increased timber 
sales and accelerated reforestation efforts on these lands. 

Forestry efforts also progressed in Alaska. BLM's 1955 Alaska Report 
estimated the territory's 125 million acres of forests and woodlands 
contained some 350 billion board feet of lumber. Because Bureau policy 
called for maximum multiple use, the protection and development of 
watersheds and timber resources, and protection against insects, disease, 
and fire, BLM increased its forest inventory and timber management 
planning in the territory. 

The public domain timber program, like the range management 
program, was limited in what it could accomplish. In 1957, there were only 
310 foresters supported by 100 nonprofessional and seasonal employees, 
and most were assigned to the O&C. A few forestry offices, like in Coeur 
d'Alene, Idaho, were opened to administer public domain forests. 
However, most grazing districts, many having extensive and valuable 
stands of pinyon-juniper and scrub oak, continued to operate without 




It was in the area of fire protection that BLM's forestry program in 
Alaska made its most notable gains. When Woozley became Director, Alaska Fire 
Alaska's firefighting facilities and equipment consisted of military surplus Program 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

material, with aircraft being the most important part of the firefighting 
arsenal. Airplanes gave fire crews mobility, enabling them to quickly reach 
fires far away from highways. The Bureau got three old Navy amphibian 
aircraft in 1953 and then supplemented them with three conventional planes 
to transport crews and equipment. These airplanes allowed BLM to expand 
its fire control efforts in the Alaskan interior. 

BLM learned the limitations of its firefighting program in the territory 
when wildfires devastated Alaska in 1 957. More than 400 fires burned close 
to 5 million acres. One fire, the Kuskokwin Fire, burned an area twice the 
size of Rhode Island. Damage to resources was put at more than $7.7 




1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 

Calendar Years 

BLM administered land burned 1947-1960 

Lower 48 Fire 

After the 1957 fire season, BLM worked hard to upgrade its Alaska fire 
program. Fire facilities were built at Fairbanks, McGrath, and Central in 
1958, and six others were planned. The Bureau increased the number of fire 
weather stations. A fire rating system was developed and employed. Air 
patrols were sent into areas after lightning storms, and the use of aerial 
sodium borate drops, effective against small fires, was expanded. But the 
Bureau's highest priority was a smokejump installation in Fairbanks. In 
their first year of operation in 1959, BLM's 15 smokejumpers made 109 
successful jumps, completely extinguishing 1 1 major fires. 

BLM also improved firefighting efforts in the "Lower 48." The agency 
continued to contract fire protection for the 5 million acres of public domain 
forests that were too far away from its district offices. BLM also continued 
to install high-frequency radio networks in all the western states to enhance 
response time and to coordinate fire efforts. Pumper trucks became the 
backbone of grazing district firefighting arsenals because, with them, two- 
member crews could control 90 percent of the range fires. Aerial water 
drops further enhanced the effectiveness of the pumper trucks. 

By 1960, the Bureau's fire response times had been reduced and fire 
suppression methods and equipment had been improved. Better training of 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 

firefighting crews further enhanced the increasing professionalism of 
BLM's firefighting program. 

A tanker truck fighting a range fire in Idaho 


The wildlife program continued to expand in importance during 
Woozley's tenure. The Bureau's basic policy toward wildlife was still 
concern for the habitat, and as Director Woozley explained in 1955, "The 
management of wildlife [was] strictly on a basis of cooperation between the 
BLM as the administrator of vast public land acreages, supporting large 
wildlife populations, and the respective states recognized as the owners of 
the wildlife." 

BLM gave wildlife interests more influence. In 1955, the number of 
wildlife representatives on National Advisory Board Council was increased 
from one to three members. Five years later, nonprofit wildlife groups and 
organizations were allowed to nominate and influence selection of 
candidates for wildlife positions on each of the grazing district advisory 
boards. The nominees were referred to state fish and game officials and then 
appropriate BLM State Offices for consideration and approval. 

The range and forestry staffs became more involved in wildlife 
management. Many BLM employees participated in wildlife census work, 
game range studies, and other related work. 

Of the many wildlife issues that BLM managers faced, the migration of 
antelope proved the most controversial. National and local wildlife 
organizations expressed concern over how sheep-tight fencing in Montana 
and Wyoming was preventing free movement of antelope. BLM had to find 
a compromise that would protect the needs of ranchers, yet address the 




on National 




BLM Wildlife 



Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

antelope migration problem. Several years later, it adopted a policy that 
would allow for fence construction in important wildlife habitat areas only 
after proper safeguards for wildlife had been made. 

Wild horses also became an issue. When the Taylor Grazing Act began 
operation, free-roaming horses were seen as a nuisance. Horses are hard on 
Wild Horse rangeland, so large herds quickly overgrazed areas. The Grazing Service 
Issue m d ranchers wanted to eliminate the horses from grazing districts. During 

World War II, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes had more than 77,000 
of the animals removed from the public lands to control their numbers but 
did not have the herds totally removed. 

In the late 1950s, free-roaming horses again became a problem. The 
public had become increasingly aware of the horses and believed they were 
wild descendents of the animals brought into the Southwest by the first 
Spanish explorers. The linage of these horses, however, only went back to 
animals abandoned earlier in the century when horse prices declined and 
their use on farms and in the military faded because of mechanization. 

Wild horse groups wanted a national wild horse refuge, but BLM 
officials called the idea unrealistic because of the large areas the horses 
roamed. The Bureau did, however, support protection if the horses became 
faced with extinction and backed a law that prohibited roundups of 
abandoned horses and burros by airplanes and motor vehicles in an effort 
to prevent the cruel treatment of these animals. 






Recreation in 

As in the Clawson years, recreation continued to be an important facet 
of the range and forest land use. During Woozley 's tenure, use of the public 
lands for hiking, camping, and other forms of recreation increased. Most of 
the recreational use was associated with hunting and fishing. 

The Bureau recognized that "the need for additional lands for public 
recreation purposes [was] a critical national problem." So, in cooperation 
with the National Park Service, BLM began inventorying and identifying 
public lands to determine which should be set aside for recreational 

Although the public lands had recreational potential, the Bureau had 
little authority to develop and manage recreation areas. With the few 
recreational responsibilities BLM was given by Congress, the Bureau 
sought to protect, improve, and facilitate recreational use. 

In Alaska, the Public Works Act of 1949 allowed for development of 
recreational sites on public lands. This effort was furthered by a 1956 law 
permitting BLM to undertake direct development of recreational sites in the 
territory. By 1958, BLM had improved 47 sites and had identified 69 more 
projects. BLM, however, encouraged the transfer of these sites to territorial 
and later to state agencies. In 1960, Secretary of the Interior Fred Seaton 
proposed that BLM be given authority to improve sites on other parts of the 
public domain. 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 

The basic Bureau recreational authority remained the Recreation Act of 
1926. In 1954, the law was amended to provide for the lease and sale of 
public lands determined valuable for public purposes such as waste disposal 
sites, cemeteries, and municipal water storage to state and local 
governments and nonprofit associations and corporations. Applications for 
sites under the new Recreation and Public Purposes Act flooded BLM. The 
Bureau sold sites if the land had no multiple resource values and leased the 
sites if the land had such values. 

The Bureau was able through the Recreation and Public Purposes Act 
to protect not only areas having recreation potential but also areas having 
historic values. BLM as early as 1953 became aware of increased vandalism 
to cultural resource sites. District managers did their best to police sites and 
investigate incidents, but to little avail. BLM even tried to develop a 
management and protection program with the help of the National Park 
Service, but the effort did little to halt the destruction. The Recreation and 
Public Purposes Act, however, specifically provided for the transfer of 
cultural resource sites, thus allowing BLM to better protect these sites 
through transfers to the states. 

R&PP Act of 






The land hunger that followed World War II continued with new fervor 
after the election of President Eisenhower. In fiscal year 1953, more than 
40,000 applications were filed and, the following year, entries increased by 
more than 50 percent. 

Edward Woozley called the crush of applications "unprecedented", 
though this boom paled when compared to past land rushes. He attributed 
the marked increase to the nation's "high level of economic 
activity... particularly... those sections of the country where public lands 
make up a large part of the total land area." BLM also pointed out that higher 
land values, increased risk capital, and advances in technology made 
previously marginal and submarginal lands attractive for development. 

The new Republican Administration also spurred activity. Republicans 
in Congress had long argued that the Department of the Interior under 
Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman had locked up the 
public lands. Eisenhower's first Secretary of the Interior, Douglas McKay, 
agreed and felt many public lands could be "more economically and 
satisfactorily administered" if transferred to state or private ownership. 
Such talk undoubtedly fueled the land rush, as speculators and others 
anticipated a great giveaway. 

Giving away public lands, however, was not the intent of the new 
administration. Public lands with important multiple resource values were 
to be retained. Interior Department officials, however, felt that land case 
processing could be simplified and modified regulations to allow BLM to 
be more responsive and flexible when processing entries. 

BLM continued the records improvement project initiated by Clawson. 

Land Boom 

BLM Land 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

New Records 

Making Land 


In 1955, the Bureau introduced the Master Title Plat and Historical Index 
system that remains the basis of the Bureau's land and mineral status 
records system today. 

The Bureau also strove to make more public lands and resources 
available for development and entry by revoking withdrawals. Withdrawals 
were reviewed to determine if they still fulfilled the purpose for which they 
were established and if the resource values could be protected by other 
management methods. BLM also got Congress to enact legislation 
prohibiting the military from securing public land withdrawals of more than 
5,000 acres without Congressional authorization and permitting the Bureau 
to manage the resources within the military reserves. BLM was thus able to 
open up millions of acres of public land to entry and to prevent millions 
more from being withheld. 

Surveys were also important to the Interior Department's efforts to 
make lands available for use and development. Resurveys were vital in 
properly marking public land boundaries for lease or disposal. In addition, 
a significant amount of acreage in the "Lower 48" was unsurveyed. Fifteen 
percent of the western United States, excluding Alaska, had not been 
traversed by survey crews. These unsurveyed lands, often rugged, 
mountainous, or desert in character, were wanted by states to satisfy land 
grant selections. These lands, however, had timber and mineral values that 
could not be sold or leased until surveys were completed. 

Since survey appropriations were inadequate to meet the demand, 
surveys had to be completed where demand was most urgent. BLM looked 

BLM surveying crews adopted use of electronic measuring devices in the late 1950s. 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 


by Tom Adler 
Management Analyst, ELM Service Center 

The Records Improvement Project (RIP) was a special program approved for the enhance- 
ment of the Land Office Records. In the process of doing a "Land Office Business," the land 
records kept by the Federal Government grew by leaps and bounds. 

The process for tracking ownership of a piece of land soon became a monumental task. As 
the volume of information expanded, so did the space requirements to store these odd-shaped 
books and plats. The land office records were very cumbersome to handle, difficult to read, 
and only available at selected locations. 

To research a case, a person would have to find the proper books, and/or plats, remove them 
from the storage shelves and find a vacant table to open them on. The documents for one case 
often required the entire table top. The researchers soon found themselves with over 10 
million records to sift through in order to find their required information. 

In the mid-1950s, the Bureau issued several contracts to correct the records problems: 
storage, readability, and retrieval of information. The first State to receive the "New Records 
System" was Utah, followed by New Mexico and Arizona. 

The New Records System consisted of Master Title Plats (MTPs), Use Plats, and Historical 
Indexes (His). The MTP, a composite of approved Survey Plats for a Township replaced the 
GLO Plats. Use Plats, copies of the MTP showing specific use activity, replaced freehand 
mineral plats such as oil and gas leasing activity. The HI, a chronological list of all land 
transactions in a given Township, replaced the Tract Books. With this new system, users 
could find tide and use data at a glance, that previously would have required hours of research. 

This system has a master set of records (the working copy) which is updated daily by the 
Records section at each State Office and copies that are in the public room, District and 
Resource Area offices. Many other agencies also have a copy of these new records. 

The process to create the new records required that each document be reviewed and 
abstracted to a standard form. The forms were then sorted into files by township and the 
information hand drafted to the new plats or typed on the His using special long carriage 
typewriters. The material used for the new records was reproducable and updatable. 

Although this system is widely accepted and used today, in the late 50s times were tough. The 
existing contractor went broke and no one was willing to take over the task at hand. At this 
time, BLM established an in-house Records Improvement Project. The project goal was to 
continue to build the "New Records System" for other western states and Alaska. 

The RIP Project Office varied from 50 to 150 employees, each with specialized tide records 
skills, who moved from state to state, constructing the new records which were subsequendy 
reviewed and accepted by the State Office. This was a 2- to 3- year process for each State. 

California was the last state to receive the New Records System and in 1984, the RIP Project 
Office was closed. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Land Case 

Small Tract 

for ways to speed the process. The efficiency of crews improved with the 
use of helicopters to move surveyors and equipment. Electronic measuring 
devices were introduced and so was the use of photogrammetry, a method 
of employing photographs to determine height and distance. 

BLM also began using protracted survey sheets. Not intended to replace 
on-the-ground surveys, protraction diagrams showed section corners and 
lines of a township, as determined from aerial photographs and other 
information sources. With these diagrams, BLM could describe lease and 
disposal actions in unsurveyed areas by township subdivision rather than by 
complicated metes-and-bounds descriptions. The method was employed in 
Alaska with much success and, by 1960, more than 284 million acres had 
been placed on protracted diagrams. New Mexico, Arizona (of which 32 
percent of the state was unsurveyed), and Montana also began using the 

The demand for land after 1953 seemed insatiable. No matter how hard 
Bureau adjudicators worked, the backlog of cases grew each year. Between 
1953 and 1960, the number of unclosed case increased from 25,000 to more 
than 45,000. 

One cause of the land boom was Small Tract Act applications. In 1954, 
the law was amended to include the sale or lease of parcels to corporations, 
associations, and state and local governments, as well as individuals. BLM 
praised the amendment for the flexibility it provided in disposing of areas 
for residential, business, recreation, and community purposes. 

Land promoters were also responsible for the increase in applications. 
They appealed to Americans' desire to acquire land through newspaper and 
magazine advertisements across the nation. "Most people [who make 
filings]," Director Woozley pointed out, "imagine they'll get a cold stream, 
green grass, and all that. They are more likely to end up with plain desert." 

The reality of Small Tract Act 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 

But the applications came in and jumped from 13,000 in 1953 to 43,000 two 
years later. 

The Desert Land Law was also troublesome. New technological 
innovations like the electric pump permitted more effective development of 
underground water sources. Low agricultural commodity prices had kept 
interest in the law down, but, with improving prices in the late 1 950s, entries 
rose sharply. Desert Land Law cases went from 1,300 in 1957 to nearly 
4,000 the following year. 

The heightened demand for public lands intensified competition 
between applicants. Several applications were often filed for the same 
parcel of public land. Resolving these controversies, especially when tracts 
were wanted for different purposes, placed heavy demands on BLM. 

Desert Land 






1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 

Fiscal Year 

New land case action 1950-1960 

Land classification helped resolve many of the conflicts, especially 
where demand was high. BLM used it as a means of controlling the growth 
and development of communities being created as a result of Small Tract 
Act activity. With the Desert Land Law, classification allowed BLM to 
determine whether the lands had good agricultural soils and sufficient water 
supplies. If they did not, applications could be rejected. BLM's land 
classification process resulted in the rejection of two-thirds of the Desert 
Land Law entries filed. The Bureau also imposed more stringent 
regulations and had land locators prosecuted for fraudulent and misleading 

Land exchanges provided additional headaches. Woozley felt that land 
exchanges with states and individuals allowed public lands and resources 
to be more effectively utilized and managed. Exchanges benefited the 
Bureau by allowing it to put together more manageable land patterns. The 
Bureau, however, found that its exchange procedures failed to adequately 








Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Public Lands 

Alaska State 



protect public interests. Land speculators and others were able to acquire 
public lands through exchange at less than fair market value. To protect 
against this, in 1 960 the Department instituted an antispeculation policy that 
ensured all land exchanges had a "clear and positive benefit" to the federal 
government and that the lands traded were of equal or near-equal value. 

A less troublesome situation was the Bureau's disposal of public lands 
in the East. These lands were difficult to manage. Most were isolated tracts 
with little public value. BLM wanted to rid itself of the lands. The Bureau's 
Eastern States Office did so through state indemnity selections, color-of- 
title claims, and public sales. 

In Alaska, the lands program emphasis shifted from the Small Tract Act 
and Homestead Law, which remained popular, to territorial and then state 
selections of public land. The first of the extensive land grants came in 1956. 
In the Alaska Mental Health Act, Congress provided the territory with a 
million acres to support mental health programs and facilities. The land 
selected had to be vacant, unappropriated, and unreserved and had to be 
used to support a mental health program for Alaska. Two years later, Alaska 
was admitted to the Union and a generous Congress granted the new state 
more than 103 million acres of public land. 

The statehood grant lands posed a challenge for BLM. The agency 
knew that Alaska would select the best public lands from the standpoint of 
resources and economic development potential, curtailing many of the 
Bureau's plans for these lands. The situation, therefore, called for BLM to 
work closely with state officials to ensure orderly state land selections and 
public land resource development. Alaska officials began their selection of 
lands in 1959 and, by the next year, had selected nearly 6.5 million acres. 
In the years to follow, the State of Alaska's land selections would become 
one of the Bureau largest and more troublesome programs. 


Developments in the minerals program mirrored those occurring in 
other resource areas. Under Woozley, BLM encouraged the exploration and 
Mineral development of both public domain and acquired mineral estates through 
Revenues private sector efforts. Minerals were an important source of revenue for the 
federal government. In 1953, of the $66.8 million BLM took in, $49.2 
million came from royalties, rentals, and bonuses paid under the Mineral 
Leasing Act of 1920. 

Most mineral revenues received in 1953 came from oil and gas leasing. 
Oil and natural gas had replaced coal as the nation's main energy fuel, and 
Oil & Gas the increased consumption pushed petroleum companies to expand their 
Activity exploration efforts. In 1953, Woozley reported 78,000 oil and gas leases 

covering 60 million acres of public domain and 2,000 leases covering 1.8 
million acres of acquired lands. The figures rose by 1960 to more than 
140,000 oil and gas leases on nearly 1 16 million acres of public domain and 
nearly 6,800 leases on close to 5 million acres of acquired lands. 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 


by Curt Jones 
State Director 

Since the bulk of the BLM-administered public lands are located in the West, the Bureau's 
role in the 31 eastern states is hardly traditional. But, in addition to operating the largest land 
tide business in the country through the General Land Office records, the Eastern States 
Office also deals with a broader variety of minerals and a more complex mix of mineral 
ownerships than any other office in the Bureau. 

When BLM received operational responsibilities for Federal onshore minerals, the Eastern 
States Office (ESO), established in 1954, took on a presence in the field far beyond any 
previous one. Our mineral operations inspectors use boats and helicopters to reach oil and gas 
leases in the Louisiana bayous, check phosphate operations in the piney woods of Florida, 
travel miles through deep lead and zinc mines in the Missouri Ozarks, and monitor the 
enviromental aspects of quartz mining in Arkansas. These field operations are managed out 
of our two District Offices established in 1983 in Jackson, Mississippi and Milwaukee, 

And since 1976, when Congress amended the Mineral Leasing Act to allow leasing within 
military installations, ESO issued oil and gas leases on nearly a dozen military areas and is 
exploring leasing potential on a number of others. Since these are all acquired lands, the 
leasing complexities are magnified. 

The Eastern United States has become the primary marketing area for wild horse and burro 
adoptions. To support this effort, we have established distribution centers at Lewisberry, 
Pennsylvania, Cross Plains, Tennessee, and at London, Ohio. We hold around 30 adoption 
events annually, and it is not unusual for 150 or more animals to be adopted at a single event. 

ESO maintains close ties 
with state land and re- 
source agencies, and 
with their umbrella or- 
ganization, the Eastern 
Lands and Resources 
Council, which we 
helped establish in 1984. 
Through cases that re- 
quire resurveys and/or 
site-specific legislation 
to clear up ownership 
issues of long standing, 
we are providing vital 
services to many Ameri- 
cans in the largest and 
most populous region of 
the United States. 

Wild horse adopter at BLM Distribution Center, Lewisberry, PA. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Alaska Oil 

Petroleum companies were particularly interested in Alaska's oil and 
gas potential. Much of this interest was prompted by BLM reports in 1953 
indicating oil and gas on the Kenai Peninsula near Anchorage and at other 

Alaska's first discovery, however, did not come until 1957 at Swanson 
River on the Kenai Peninsula. Oil and gas leases in Alaska then jumped 
from 3,385 to more than 9,000. To handle the crush of lease applications, 
the BLM in Alaska had to temporarily assign people from other mineral 
programs, as well as from fire and forestry staffs, to help process the 


Alaska's first successful oil well — 1957 


Secretary of the Interior Fred Seaton further spurred activity by opening 
20 million acres in northern Alaska previously closed to leasing. After this 
was done, leasing was resumed. In 1959, 16,000 acres of land adjacent to 
a known natural gas field were leased at competitive sale for more than 
$200,000. A year later, nearly 34 million acres of public lands in Alaska 
were under lease — more than for any other public land state. 

BLM not only had the oil boom to contend with, but also the problems 
associated with speculation that had first surfaced during Clawson's tenure. 
By eliminating of 40-acre leases outside of producing areas, some of the 
problems had been solved, but leasing firms then turned to selling 40-acre 
assignments — subleases — of existing leases. More than 28,000 
assignments were filed in 1958, causing the processing of new lease offers 
to slow down dramatically. BLM attempted to stop the practice, which was 
legal, with legislation prohibiting assignments of less than 160 acres. Since 
Congress took no action, the problem persisted for the remainder of 
Woozlcy's tenure. 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 

1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 

Fiscal Year 

Active oil & gas leases in Alaska 1947-1960 

BLM under Woozley did resolve one problem associated with oil and 
gas leasing. As interest in obtaining oil and gas leases intensified, the public 
was competing more and more for leases that were cancelled, relinquished, 
or terminated. To ensure everyone would get a fair and equal chance to 
know about and obtain these leases, BLM in 1960 instituted a simultaneous 
filing system. The new procedure required all oil and gas leases that had 
been cancelled, relinquished, and terminated during one month to be 
publicly listed for 5 days the following month. Prospective lessees could 
then file applications for those tracts that interested them. Leases were then 
awarded by public drawing. This process became popularly known as the 
oil and gas lottery system. 

The real oil boom, however, was not on the public lands; it occurred off 
the nation's coastline. As early as 1865, the Surveyor General of California 
reported a petroleum spring on the ocean floor near San Luis Obispo. 
However, these petroleum reserves were not seriously developed until the 
1930s. In that same decade, oil was discovered in the Gulf of Mexico near 
the Louisiana and Texas coasts. 

The federal government and states argued over the ownership of the 
valuable offshore lands. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1947 sided with the 
federal government against California and, 3 years later, against Texas and 
Louisiana. States' rights advocates were incensed and sought support from 
the Republican Party in their bid to "return" the submerged lands to the 
states. With Eisenhower's election, Congress quit-claimed all the federal 
interest in tideland and seabed areas 3 miles from the coastline to the states. 

The federal government, however, retained title to the area beyond the 
3-mile limit. Known as the Outer Continental Shelf, this area was thought 
to have much of the 12.5-billion barrel oil potential attributed to offshore 
lands. BLM was assigned the responsibility for leasing this area through 
competitive sales, while the Geological Survey was to oversee prospecting 
and development. 

Texas and Louisiana were considered to have the best oil and gas 

Filing System 





Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 




Act of 1954 

Surface Use 
Act of 1955 

potential, so in 1954 BLM's Eastern States Office was directed to open an 
office in New Orleans. BLM then began taking nominations for tracts to be 
offered and put them up for bid. The bonus bids received for lease of the 
parcels exceeded $150 million — twice that of BLM's best expectations. 

The Outer Continental Shelf quickly established itself as a 
moneymaker. In 1955 the first discovery off Louisiana produced 595 
barrels a day. More impressive was the fact that leasing the Outer 
Continental Shelf brought in more than $252 million in bonus bids and 
rentals within the first year. All lease offerings were suspended in 1956 
when Louisiana and the United States went to court to determine the 3-mile 
boundary between their jurisdictions. In 1959, BLM resumed leasing off the 
Florida coast. A year later, after the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled on the 
boundary issue, BLM also resumed leasing along the Louisiana and Texas 
coasts. Interest in the Outer Continental Shelf had not waned; BLM 
received more than $370 million for 1.2 million acres offered. 

Enactment of new minerals legislation also occurred during the 
Woozley era. Multiple Mineral Development Act of 1954 provided for the 
location of mining claims under the General Mining Law and leasing under 
the Mineral Leasing Act on the same tract. Before the law was enacted, 
mining claims could not be staked on lands leased for oil and gas or other 
minerals, nor could mineral leases be issued for lands covered by valid 
mining claims. The new law permitted multiple development of minerals on 
the public lands. 

The Multiple Surface Use Act of 1955 restricted surface use rights on 
unpatented mining claims. The federal government could, after following 
detailed procedures intended to protect the interests of miners, classify and 
open surface resources on mining claims to Federally supervised grazing, 
timber cutting, and other uses. The 1955 law also provided for the disposal 
of sand, gravel, stone, and other common variety minerals through sale 
under the Materials Act of 1947. This removed these minerals from location 
under the General Mining Law of 1 872 and made administration easier for 
the Bureau. 


Third World 



As an outgrowth of its increasing resource management responsibilities 
and professionalism, the Bureau of Land Management began sharing its 
knowledge and expertise with other nations. The social and economic 
problems facing many countries, particularly those now known as the Third 
World, often resulted from the improper and unbalanced use, management, 
and distribution of land. BLM worked with many nations to alleviate these 
problems as part of the United States' foreign assistance program after 
World War II. 

Beginning with Clawson during the Truman Administration, the 
Bureau began sending various technical experts to foreign lands and hosting 
their professionals in the United States. Director Woozley continued the 
program. By 1960, BLM had assisted Egypt, Paraguay, West Germany, the 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 

Philippines, and many other countries with cadastral survey, land 
classification, range and forestry administration, and many other land and 
resource management activities. 


Near the close of the Eisenhower Administration, the Department of the 
Interior and the Bureau of Land Management began to work on an 
ambitious new conservation program for the public lands. The program 
called for intensified resource management to respond to the nation's 
growing population and increasing demands on natural resources. 
Resources would have to be conserved through more efficient use that 
would reduce waste and damage. The recycling and salvaging of resources 
would become more important. 

In line with this thinking, the Interior Department sponsored a five- 
point program aimed at accomplishing better conservation of the public 
lands and resources. Enacted by Congress in 1960, the Public Lands 
Administration Act called for (1) using forfeited timber deposits to 
rehabilitate lands ruined by defaulting timber contractors, (2) receiving 
sufficient deposits from users of BLM roads and trails to ensure proper 
maintenance, (3) charging more realistic fees for services rendered by 
BLM, (4) accepting donations for the improvement or management of 
public lands and resources, and (5) entering into cooperative agreements 
with others in order to carry out proper management of public lands and 

BLM at the same time proposed its own ambitious conservation 
program. The plan was called Project 2012. In sending the prospectus to the 
President, Secretary of the Interior Fred Seaton emphasized that the plan 
sought to meet the nation's "accepted goals of conservation, improvement, 
wise use and development of our public lands," while at the same time, 
contributing "toward meeting the challenge of our growing population and 
expanding economy." 

Project 2012 was the Bureau's first attempt at a comprehensive, long- 
range program for the public lands. It addressed the "orderly, efficient, and 
sound development and use of resources. ..through balanced, coordinated, 
and sustained effort" over a 50-year timeframe. The program was ambitious 
but unrealistic. As Bob Jones, a BLM employee who worked on the plan, 
recalls, "The primary legacy of [Project] 2012 was to create an internal 
awareness of possible long-range resource management program needs and 
dimensions along with ahealthy skepticism of the value of 50-year detailed 
program projections." More important, as professor of natural resources 
Sally Fairfax points out, the Project 2012 report, though "unexceptional" in 
her opinion, reflected "the maturation of an increasingly professional BLM 

Project 2012 was quickly forgotten by BLM and the public. The 





Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

agency's professionalism, however, did not disappear. The talent and skills 
developed during the 1950s continued on and were to be put to good use by 
a new administration with a "New Conservation" agenda. 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 

Bureau of Land Management 

T-« I 3.000 - 


2.SOO - 
2.000 - 



2 1.SOO - 

W - 


1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 

Fiscal Year 

1959 I960 


35 - 

30 - 


2 25- 

<£, 20 " 

S, 15- 


* 10- 



47 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 

Fiscal Year 

1959 1960 

Revenues 400 : 




.2 250- 

I 20 °; 

| 150- 


J ioo- 






M 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 

Fiscal Year 

Fred Johnson 1946-1948 
Marion Clawson 1948-1953 
Edward Woozley 1953-1961 

Materials Act 1947 
Outer Continental Shelf Act 1953 
Multiple Minerals Development Act 1954 
Multiple Surface Use Act 1955 

1959 19 



Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


Historians have largely ignored the Bureau of Land Management. What 
little has been written has been by political scientists, economists, and 
natural resource management specialists. 

General overviews of the 1950s that give some reference to BLM are 
Samuel T. Dana's and Sally K. Fairfax's, Forest and Range Policy: Its 
Development in the United States, Second Edition (1980), and Elmo 
Richardson's, Dams, Parks & Politics: Resource Development and 
Preservation in the Truman-Eisenhower Era (1973). Treatments that touch 
upon BLM in the early '50s are Charles McKinley's, Uncle Sam in the 
Pacific Northwest (1952), and E. Louise Peffer's, The Closing of the Public 
Domain: Disposal and Reservation Policies, 1900-50 (1951). 

On BLM under Director Marion Clawson, see his "Reminiscences of 
the Bureau of Land Management, 1947-1953," in The Public Lands: 
Studies in the History of the Public Domain (1962) edited by Vernon 
Carstensen, and his autobiography, From Sagebrush to Sage: The Making 
of a Natural Resource Economist (1987). Marion Clawson ' s The Bureau of 
Land Management (1971) provides some background information. 

Useful to understanding the early organization of BLM is Eugene D. 
Hart's, "The Field Organization of the Bureau of Land Management," 
Ph.D. dissertation, American University, 1957. 

General studies of public land resource administration are Marion 
Clawson's and Burnell Held's, The Federal Lands: Their Use and 
Management (1957), and Marion Clawson, The Federal Land Since 1956: 
Recent Trends in Use and Management (1967). 

Range policy is well handled in Wesley Calef's Private Grazing and 
Public Lands: Studies of the Local Management of the Taylor Grazing Act 
(1960), and J. Russell Penny's and Marion Clawson's, "Administration of 
Grazing Districts" in The Public Lands: Studies in the History of the Public 
Domain (1962) edited by Vernon Carstensen. Also of use are Phillip O. 
Foss, Politics and Grass: The Administration of Grazing on the Public 
Domain (1960), and William Voigt, Jr., Public Grazing Lands: Use and 
Misuse by Industry and Government (1976). 

As to forestry, only the O&C lands have been adequately treated. On the 
O&C, refer to Elmo Richardson's, BLM's Billion-Dollar Checkerboard: 
Managing the O&C Lands (1980) and the The O&C Lands (1981) by the 
University of Oregon's Bureau of Governmental Research and Service. 

On BLM's development of a firefighting organization, see Stephen J. 
Pyne's comprehensive fire history, Fire in America: A Cultural History of 
Wildland and Rural Fire (1982). 

Mineral policy and development is discussed in Robert Swenson's 
"Legal Aspects of Mineral Resources Exploitation" in Paul Wallace Gates' 
History of Public Land Law Development (1968), and Carl Mayer's and 
George Riley's, Public Domain — Private Dominion: A History of Public 
Mineral Policy in America (1985). On the issue of offshore oil and gas, refer 


The Search for an Identity; The Bureau of Land Management 1946-1960 

to Ernest Bartley's, The Tidelands Controversy (1953) and Chapter 9 of 
William K. Wyant's Westward in Eden: The Public Lands and the 
Conservation Movement (1982). 

On Alaska, see Hugh A. Johnson's and Harold T. Jorgenson's, The 
Land Resources of Alaska (1963), and 'Promised Land: ' A History of 
Alaska's Selection of Its Congressional Land Grants (1987). 




The 1960s 

Transition from custodianship to action programs is part of the new dimension 
by which BLM is putting the public lands to work in the public interest. 

—Stewart Udall 
The Third Wave, 1966 

Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

The 1960s 


The Third 



The 1960s brought rapid growth and fundamental change to BLM — 
tumultuous change that permanently altered the Bureau's course. President 
Kennedy took notice of the public lands, saying they were vital to the 
nation's economic well-being but suffered from "uncontrolled use and a 
lack of proper management." The White House asked BLM to accelerate its 
inventory of the public lands and develop a program of balanced use to 
reconcile resource conflicts. 

A fledgling multiple use philosophy within the Bureau was legally 
endorsed for the public lands in the Classification and Multiple Use Act 
(CMU Act) of 1964. BLM was reorganized to reflect new programs and 
authorities under this mandate: concerns for wildlife, recreation, soil, and 
water resources were integrated into traditional programs (range, forestry, 
lands, and minerals) through a land use planning process. 

Inspired by the conservation accomplishments of Theodore and 
Franklin Roosevelt, Secretary Udall launched the nation's "Third 
Conservation Wave" by requesting a new legislative mandate for the public 
lands from Congress. Part of this agenda included formal recognition of 
multiple use management on BLM lands, patterned after the Forest 
Service's Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act of 1960. Other components 
centered on getting BLM a more flexible land sale authority and repealing 
outdated settlement acts. 

But more than a push for legislation, the Third Conservation Wave was 
a philosophy — one that viewed natural resources as finite, interrelated, and 
vulnerable components of larger systems. According to Udall, the Interior 
Department had "the prime function of planning for the future of America 
and working to conserve the natural resources which sustain its life." The 
Department's 1961 Annual Report spoke of a "quiet crisis" facing 
America's citizens, the result of unplanned progress and explosive 
growth — something that threatened the nation's natural resources and its 
citizens' quality of life. Careful management of America's public lands 
could turn the tide, and this could only be done with extensive planning and 
involvement from the public. 

Udall's program was only part of a growing national conservation 
movement. With more leisure time on their hands, urban Americans began 
to take notice of the public lands. Recreation groups and conservation 
organizations gained many new members in the 1960s and began to petition 
Congress for new parks, wilderness areas, and outdoor recreation facilities. 
While BLM was not as well known by the general public as were the 
National Park Service and the Forest Service (as evidenced by the omission 
of BLM lands from the Wilderness Act of 1964), the Bureau saw its local 
and regional constituents grow. 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 

Citizen lobbies soon began to voice concern on protecting endangered 
wildlife and combating pollution. By the end of the decade, overall 
environmental quality emerged as a national issue. The Third Conservation 
Wave grew into a demand for action from Congress, the Interior 
Department, and BLM. According to natural resources professor Sally K. 
Fairfax, "resource issues have never been discussed with such emotional 
intensity as they were in the late 1960s and early 1970s." 

Three Directors oversaw BLM's growth into a multiple use agency 
during the 1960s: Karl S. Landstrom (February 1961 - June 1963), Charles 
H. Stoddard (June 1963 - June 1966) and Boyd L. Rasmussen (June 1966 
- June 1971). Landstrom supervised the drafting of Secretary Udall's 
legislative agenda and worked to reduce the Bureau's growing backlog of 
pending land applications. Stoddard began to implement the new 
legislation and reorganized the Bureau to more effectively manage its 
workload. To integrate all this activity on the ground, Stoddard started the 
development of a multiple use planning system on the public lands. 

Boyd Rasmussen completed these tasks and introduced initiatives of 
his own. Land use classifications under the CMU Act were completed and 
a planning system was implemented in the field. Rasmussen worked to 
"depoliticize" BLM's decisionmaking process, giving the Department and 
Congress the task of deciding sensitive political issues, such as grazing fee 
formulas. In addition, Rasmussen directed BLM's early efforts toward 
obtaining a comprehensive management statute for the public lands — a 
goal eventually attained through passage of the Federal Land Policy and 
Management Act of 1976. 

Reflecting their increasing visibility, 167 million acres of BLM lands 
in the 1 1 western states were renamed the National Land Reserve, and after 
implementation of the CMU Act, National Resource Lands. At the end of 
the decade, BLM and Congress began to recognize unique values on the 
public lands and designate special management areas — natural areas, 
recreation lands, primitive areas, and national conservation areas — to 
protect areas identified in the classification process. 

In 1963 Secretary Udall designated Resource Conservation Areas on 
BLM lands in each of the western states to demonstrate how active 
management of the public lands would provide benefits to all resources, 
including soil and water, forage (both wildlife and livestock), and forests. 
Director Stoddard said "we hope to acquaint every American with the 
thought that he is part owner of a great national treasure — which is 
becoming ever more valuable as our population grows." Secretary Udall 
urged conservationists to visit these areas and follow their progress through 
on-the-ground inspections and discussions at club meetings. 

This explosion of activity in the 1 960s led to a new land ethic, but it was 
not achieved without cost: controversies erupted and debates intensified as 
BLM advanced its multiple use mission. Reflecting America's growing 
concern for its public lands (and the Bureau's new mandates), BLM's 
workforce grew from about 2,600 in 1960 to 4,300 in 1970, with its budget 
growing from $36 million to $1 18 million. Revenues also grew — to over a 


The National 
Land Reserve 





Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

billion dollars in 1969 — thanks in large measure to increasing Outer 
Continental Shelf revenues. 

Many of BLM's 300-plus million acres of public domain holdings in 
Alaska were destined for transfer to other federal agencies and the state, 
once Native claims to the land were settled. Controversy also broke out over 
allowable cuts for O&C forests, which wasn't resolved until the end of the 
decade. In the minerals arena, Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) lands, 
totalling 2 billion acres, witnessed great growth in drilling activity. 


Under Karl Landstrom, BLM began to transform itself from an agency 
primarily processing land and mineral applications into an agency actively 
planning for the nation's future needs. The Bureau stepped up inventories 
of public land resources and invited the public to help decide how they 
should be managed. 

The Bureau's state advisory boards and National Advisory Board 
Council (NABC) were reorganized in 1961 to broaden their representation 
by public land users. NABC's membership was increased from 30 to 42, 
with representatives added from conservation groups, county governments, 
forestry and mining interests, and the oil and gas industry. 

BLM was reorganized the same year; service centers in Denver and 
Portland took over the functions of the Field Administrative Offices and 
provided scarce skills (e.g., botany, hydrology, cultural resource 
management) to the field. State Offices were strengthened, bringing BLM's 
work closer to interested land users and groups, plus state and local 
agencies. An Engineering Division was established in Washington to assist 
in road building and other field office construction activities. 

Traditional programs continued to broaden their focus to a multiple use 
framework. Range activities, for example, moved from adjudication of 
grazing privileges to inventories of forage, soil, and watershed conditions. 
BLM State Offices began to hire wildlife biologists and outdoor recreation 
planners to implement new programs. 

During the 1950s and 1960s, a new breed of employee entered BLM. 
He — or she — had college training in natural resource management, usually 
a degree, plus membership in a professional society (the Society for Range 
Management was founded in 1948; the Society of American Foresters was 
™f?£t* S /r founded in 1900). They brought with them new educational backgrounds, 
new attitudes, and stronger multiple use philosophies — and soon clashed 
with old-timers from the GLO and the Grazing Service. George Turcott 
started his career with BLM as a range conservationist in 1950 and rose 
through the ranks to become Associate Director in the 1970s. According to 
Turcott, there was a strong "don't-rock-the-boat" philosophy in the Bureau 
in the '50s and early '60s. "We had all this [range] adjudication work to do 
and everybody was trying to find ways to do it without making anybody 
mad.. ..We thought that there just had to be more to our jobs than this." 


New Breed 

A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 


by Ed Dettman 
Chief, Division of Administrative Services, BLM Service Center 

Two service centers, one in Portland, Oregon and one in Denver, Colorado, were established 
in 1963. They replaced Field Administrative Offices (FAOs) in Salt Lake City, San 
Francisco, and Portland. The service centers were premised on two fundamental principles 
to achieve economies of scale through centralization of administrative and technical 
equipment and personnel, and to provide an effective setting for scarce skills which could be 
utilized jointly by field offices and BLM's Washington Office. 

The fundamental structure for both centers was the same, but external factors resulted in 
significant differences in staff sizes and assigned functions. For example, all financial 
processing functions (voucher audit, payroll, and payments) were centralized in Denver due 
to the Treasury Department's major disbursing office there. Likewise, the initial start-up 
costs for mainframe computing equipment and staffing dictated the formation of an 
Automated Data Processing organization in Denver without a full counterpart in Portland. 

In 1973, the Portland Service Center functions were consolidated into the Denver Service 
Center. Based on cost efficiencies and other factors, the Records Improvement Project and 
the Western Field Office for reimbursable cadastral surveys for other agencies were left duty- 
stationed in Portland with management oversight and direction from Denver. 

Throughout the 25 years of its existence, the role of the Service Center has been constantly 
changing and always controversial. Its sincerest critics highlight instances in which Service 
Center initiatives have lacked either the field offices' pragmatic sensitivity to political 
realities or the Washington Office's sense of policy integration and timing. Its sincerest 
advocates point to the unwavering connection between new skills, systems and technologies 
which have come into the Bureau at all levels and their genesis and support by Service Center 
personnel and initiatives. The Service Center concept, constantly adjusted to meet changing 
needs and priorities, has proven to be an enduring and essential element in the development 
of improved technical, administrative, and scientific support for public land management. 

Like Turcott, many employees moved throughout the West and to 
Washington to build their careers. And like their predecessors, they 
recognized that the public lands had many values and uses. They saw the 
Forest Service attain multiple use management authority in the Multiple 
Use Sustained Yield Act of 1960, which recognized wood, water, forage, 
wildlife, and recreation as resource programs. At all levels of the 
organization, they wondered why BLM didn't have the same mandate. 


Much of the pressure to review and modernize the nation's land laws 
came from a backlog of applications for agricultural entry that developed 
in the 1950s. In 1961, BLM implemented an 18-month moratorium on 
accepting any further applications so that it could reduce a backlog of more 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Karl S. Landstrom 


by Karl S. iMndstrom 

Editor's Note: Karl S. Landstrom entered government as a 
farm economist with the Department of Agriculture in 1937 
and joined BLM in 1949. He has degrees in economics from 
the University of Oregon and in law from George Washing- 
ton University. Landstrom was named BLM Director in 
1961. In 1963 he became Secretary Udall's assistant for 
land utilization and later served as his representative to the 
Public Land Law Review Commission' s Advisory Council . 

I joined BLM's Portland regional office in 1949 as a land 

economist. In 1953 1 was transferred to Washington because 

I had declined to classify certain public lands in Idaho as 

proper for entry under the Desert Land Act — lands that were 

unsuitable agriculturally or that had questionable water supplies. I learned of my impending 

transfer two weeks before official notice from a commercial land locator operating in Idaho. 

While I was in Washington I served as Chief of the Bureau's Branch of Land Classification 
in the Division of Land Planning. I drafted regulations and manuals, wrote case decisions, 
and testified on the Hill on pending lands legislation. I also developed a training program on 
land appraisal standards. 

I left BLM in 1 959 to become a legislative consultant to the House Committee on Interior and 
Insular Affairs, where I worked until 1961 . While there, I worked with Stewart Udall, who 
was a member of the Committee. During die change in administrations I applied to be 
Director of BLM through Mr. Udall. I understand that my appointment had been endorsed 
by Wayne Aspinall, Chairman of the Committee. 

By January of 1961 BLM was beset with an intolerable backlog of land disposal applications. 
The backlog was an embarrassment to BLM employees who worked with the public and were 
criticized as though they, and not the land laws themselves, were the cause of the situation. 

Under a general land reform program instituted under President Kennedy and Secretary 
Udall, the Bureau moved ahead with deliberate speed. Associate Director Harold Hochmuth 
and I took aggressive steps to remedy the situation, beginning with an 18-month moratorium 
in 1961-62 and continuing into a legislative campaign, later culminating in far-reaching 
reforms. Numerous drafts of proposed land law legislation were submitted by BLM through 
the Department to the Congress. The process had been set in motion leading to the 
establishment of the Public Land Law Review Commission in 1964. 

Something also had to be done to curb widespread loss of public confidence in BLM, from 
both commercial and conservation interests. BLM was sharply criticized by both grazing 
users, who resented proposed cuts in grazing allotments, and wildlife interests, who de- 
manded that overgrazing be eliminated. The morale of employees in the Bureau had suffered 
on account of these problems and an influx of top personnel from outside the agency during 
the preceding eight years. 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 

As Director I took care to assure that most top-level personnel were selected from within 
BLM ranks. In addition, I worked to establish multiple use advisory boards that were more 
representative of our many constituents. After my first meeting with BLM's National 
Advisory Board Council, I recommended it be reorganized to reflect a more balanced 
viewpoint toward public land administration. Reorganization of the Council and the state- 
level boards was approved by the Department. 

The Vale project in Oregon gave new life torangeland rehabilitation. It marked the beginning 
of a movement that proved highly beneficial in improving rangelands — and general relations 
between ranchers and BLM. 

The project gained impetus in remarks I made at the end of a meeting BLM personnel had 
with people in Vale County, Oregon, including Congressman Al Ullman and Senator Wayne 
Morse. I said how much I would like to see efforts toward range rehabilitation expanded, such 
as increasing sagebrush removal and the planting of crested wheatgress. Senator Morse asked 
how much money it would take. I made a quick mental guess and said something like $15 
million and three years. The formal estimate was not much different. The upshot was we got 
immediate funding for a pilot project in the Vale District. Other Senators soon got wind of 
this work and obtained funding for their own projects. 

The 1961 reorganization eliminating regional offices established State Offices as the major 
second level of administration, supported by service centers in Portland and Denver. Another 
accomplishment was the decentralization of plat and tract book records from Washington, 
DC to the land offices, further saving costs and expediting service to the public. But to be very 
frank, this move was stimulated by Secretary Udall, who learned there used to be a 
gymnasium in the Interior building, which was now occupied by these voluminous records. 
He asked me to clear them out, which I did; thereafter BLM employees and others shot 
baskets and played volleyball as well as enjoying the gym's new sauna! 

I found it relatively easy to reinstate a conservation-minded administration under Secretary 
Udall's "Third Conservation Wave," although there were a number of difficulties along the 
way. I found at times that members of the Secretariat were acutely sensitive to pressures from 
commercial groups, especially when voiced through members of Congress or their staffs. 

After leaving the Bureau I worked as Assistant to the Secretary for Land Utilization and 
served as the Department' s member of the Public Land Law Review Commission's Advisory 
Council. My greatest achievement, in cooperation with friends from the Forest Service, was 
preventing the substitution of 'dominant use' for 'multiple use' management on the public 
lands. In the 1960s there were members of Congress who felt that multiple use was merely 
a "meaningless jumble of words." 

Ed Cliff of the Forest Service joined with me in defending multiple use, a professional 
concept going back to the first conservation wave under President Theodore Roosevelt. This 
effort culminated the work I began as Director to seek formal recognition of multiple use 
management for BLM lands. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

than 60,000 applications — some pending for more than four years. BLM 
needed to review its overall lands program and devise a better system for 
handling applications. To back this up, BLM documented what happened 
with applications under the Homestead and Desert Land Acts. 

The 'Land Office business' has been very glamorous 
at times; sort of romantic at times; but hectic most of 
the time. 

— Karl S. Landstrom 

Farming on arid western lands was a formidable challenge if one lacked 
a dependable water source. Only 14 percent of Homestead applications 
were being allowed by BLM and, of these, only about 50 percent went to 
patent and were transferred into private ownership after residency and land 
development requirements had been met. Only 17 percent of Desert Land 
Act applications were approved by BLM, and only 1 percent ever went to 

About 120 patents were issued annually during the 1950s for public 
lands in the lower 48 states. In Alaska, 150 patents were granted annually; 
in 65 years, only 3,200 patents were issued (totaling 400,000 acres, or 0.1 
percent of Alaska's total land area) out of more than 10,000 claims. 


• ■ '■■ '$m ' % 


p-«to ■• 



A successful desert land entry depended on a reliable water supply. 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 

When BLM's moratorium was lifted, BLM implemented what 
Landstrom termed a "petition-classification system" that cut by more than 
half the time to process applications. Demands for public lands by 
communities and industries, however, continued to grow. The Recreation 
and Public Purposes Act limited most sales of lands to 640 acres. BLM 
needed more flexibility, plus a mandate to classify and manage its holdings. 

In 1962 Assistant Secretary John Carver notified Congress that the 
nation's nonmineral public land laws were in need of modernization. BLM 
had shown that lands suitable for agriculture had already passed out of 
federal ownership. The Bureau also needed formal recognition of what it 
was beginning in earnest under Secretary Udall: multiple use management 
of the nation's public lands. 

Three acts passed in 1964 as part of a legislative package arranged by 
Wayne Aspinall, Chairman of the House Interior and Insular Affairs 
Committee. The Department got the Classification and Multiple Use Act 
plus the Public Land Sale Act, while Aspinall got approval for what he 
wanted, the Public Land Law Review Commission (PLLRC). As part of this 
deal, the Wilderness Act, which did not include BLM lands, was released 
from Aspinall's committee and passed both Houses. 

Aspinall had become increasingly wary of the initiatives proposed by 
the Executive Branch — and disagreed with their direction. Wanting 
Congress to reassert what he felt was its traditional role in establishing land 
policy and supervising agency activities, Aspinall was successful in 
insisting that the CMU and Public Sale Acts be made temporary pending 
Congress' study of the public land laws. 


The CMU Act became BLM's biggest challenge — and opportunity — 
of the decade. People in BLM, the Department, and Congress differed 
greatly over the act's interpretation and implementation. Central to this 
story were BLM's people: employees determined how BLM got its job 
done and how it emerged as a land management agency. 

Though only a temporary authority, the CMU Act provided a definition 
of multiple use as the "combination of surface and subsurface resources of 
the public lands that will best meet the present and future needs of the 
American people." The act listed ten elements of multiple use, including 
wildlife, recreation, watershed, and range, and directed BLM to classify its 
lands for retention in federal ownership or disposal. But it did not specify 
how much land should be classified. 

At the time it passed, no one in Congress (or BLM) thought the Bureau 
could inventory and classify the majority of its holdings in the 11 western 
states by the time the act was set to expire in 1968. But it did, classifying 
more than 175 million acres for retention in federal ownership under 
multiple use management (including 32 million acres in Alaska) and 3.4 
million acres for disposal. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

The CMU Act changed BLM forever: it would no longer classify lands 
on a case-by-case basis, evaluating petitions from land users. BLM now 
planned how all its lands and resources would be managed. The Bureau no 
longer managed its holdings along individual program lines; it integrated 
each activity into land use plans that would "best meet the present and future 
needs of the American people." To do this required involving the public in 
BLM's decisionmaking process. 

Under Charles Stoddard, regulations for the CMU act were developed 

CMU with public input and comment. Draft regulations were sent to interested 

Regulations individuals, organizations, state and local governments, and other federal 

agencies for review, and they were discussed at 65 public meetings 

throughout the country. 

The final regulations, adopted in October 1965, incorporated many 
changes suggested by people outside BLM. As future events would 
confirm, this was only the beginning of public involvement for the Bureau. 

The CMU Act required that BLM's classification activities be 
consistent with state and local government programs, plans, and zoning 
regulations. Proposed classifications were sent to state and local 
governments and planning commissions. Proposals for retention were sent 
to these entities as well as to public land users and BLM's multiple use 
advisory boards. 

BLM classified lands by collecting and analyzing information on areas 
and their uses, and then contacted individuals, groups, and agencies for 
further information. Meetings were held to assess public attitudes and 
sentiments about retention or disposal actions. BLM then drafted a 
proposed classification, published it in the Federal Register, and held a 
public hearing. Only then were classifications made final, through 
publication in the Federal Register. 

BLM met with the National Association of Counties, the U.S. 
Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, and the Council of 
State Governments to explain and implement the CMU program. As a result 
of these discussions, BLM decided to work with pilot counties in each 
western state to test the classification process. County governments 
developed planning and zoning regulations and the Bureau held an Urban 
and Rural Land Planning Conference in Reno, Nevada, to explain the act 
and to develop classification procedures. 

Valley County, Montana, was the first successful test of the process. 
BLM's initial assumption that scattered lands would be classified for 
disposal was opposed by the public — many of these lands had scenic or 
recreational values or provided access to larger public land areas. Local 
groups urged BLM to focus its efforts on larger blocked areas under the 
CMU act, which BLM did. In 1966 BLM classified its first lands under the 
act: 614,000 acres for retention in multiple use management. 

Another pilot project proved a formidable challenge: Clark County, 
Nevada had several jurisdictions with competing annexation programs. The 
CMU Act required that a single comprehensive plan be developed for the 
area. To reconcile their differences, groups within the county formed the 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 

Las Vegas Valley Planning Council, which eventually devised a plan for the 
county's 7 million acres. 

During this process, a recreation committee, with involvement of local 
citizens, developed a plan for the Spring Mountain area, which was 
classified for retention and then designated by Secretary Udall in 1967 as 
the Red Rocks Recreation Lands — the first such designation made under 
the CMU Act. 

White Rock Spring in Red Rocks Recreation Area 

Other classification efforts confirmed that the public favored retention 
of almost all the public lands in federal ownership — and this from almost 
all BLM user groups. Livestock operators, wildlife groups, and 
recreationists wanted continued use of the public lands, and only retention 
could provide this. 

Because the CMU act was a temporary measure, BLM's first 
regulations provided that its classifications would expire at the time the act 
did. But in 1967 BLM convinced the Department that CMU classifications 
had long-term values and should be continued indefinitely. 

In implementing BLM's large-scale classifications, Director 
Rasmussen convinced Secretary Udall to back the field's broad-brush 
approach, with the idea that classifying public lands in large areas decide 
their fate once and for all. Once this was done, it would be difficult to 
undo — and only Congress or the Secretary could do it — freeing BLM to 
manage its holdings under a multiple use mandate. In this way, BLM's 
National Resource Lands were established, in a manner somewhat 
analogous to the creation of a system of national forests. 

Proof of the public's support for retention of BLM lands in public 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by Irving Senzel 

Editor's Note: Irving Senzel began his career with the General Land Office in 1939. In his 
more than 30-year career, Mr. Senzel held many positions, including Chief of the Division 
of Lands and Minerals Standards and Technology under Director Stoddard and Assistant 
Director for Lands and Minerals under Director Rasmussen. In these jobs he was responsible 
for overseeing implementation of the Classification and Multiple Use Act of 1964. 

What role did I play in the CMU Act program? Well, I had nothing to do with drafting the 
law. That was done in the House Interior Committee. However, because of the Lands and 
Minerals positions I held (Division Chief and later Assistant Director), I became involved in 
its interpretation and implementation. 

After the House enacted the bill, I was told not to propose any amendments; I initiated two 
letters to die Senate Interior Committee interpreting provisions of the bill that I thought were 
ambiguous. These letters later proved important to our defense of our program, particularly 
since they dealt in part with the question of segregating lands from locations under the mining 
laws. Our remarks were significant since the Senate passed the House bill without amend- 

In the implementation of the CMU Act, I had primary responsibility for die preparation of 
classification regulations, drafting of manual sections on public-participation procedures, 
and monitoring progress of the program. In this work, we were plowing new ground in active 
give-and-take with the public in die public lands areas. We were anxious to make sure that 
our field efforts were conducted in a fully professional, objective manner. 

The field undertook program operations with enthusiasm. BLMers spent long hours, 
including evenings and weekends, in preparation, public meetings, discussions with State 
and local officials, show-me tours, and what not. All this soon resulted in a flow of 
classification orders for publication in the Federal Register. Our progress apparendy took 
some people by surprise, for from the Hill and a couple of other places came demands that 
BLM stop its work under the Act. 

In a Director's staff meeting called to discuss this development, I argued against acceding to 
this demand chiefly because ( 1 ) what we were doing was consistent with the directives of the 
law, (2) our interpretations, proposed regulations and criteria, and proposed field procedures 
were all exposed to detailed public and Congressional scrutiny before adoption, (3) the 
general public in the public-lands areas responded well to our operations, and (4) surrender 
without a fight would be a serious blow to field morale, which was men very high. Field 
personnel were doing a job they thought needed to be done. 

We took the matter up with Secretary Udall, who then gave us the green light to continue with 
our work. The Hill was informed of this decision. 

When the statutory period terminated, the field had completed classifications for more than 
150 million acres, a remarkable achievement especially since the Bureau received no 
additional funding from die Act to do this pioneering work. 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 

ownership came in July 1968, when BLM proposed to classify 119,000 
acres of lands in Pima and Pinal counties, Arizona, for disposal (along with 
354,000 acres for retention). Objections from the public and user groups 
caused BLM to abandon the proposal; the acreage to be disposed eventually 
dropped to 6,600 acres. 

Some in Congress — Wayne Aspinall in particular — strongly disagreed 
with BLM's approach, asserting that the agency was stretching its authority. 
A critical test of BLM's strategy came when Aspinall wanted to extend the 
Public Land Law Review Commission Act without the CMU Act. The 
Senate (Senator Jackson in particular) would not agree to this request and 
extended both acts until 1970. 

While lands classified for retention were segregated from settlement 
laws, they were not precluded from mineral leasing or most mining activity. 
Less than 1 percent of the lands classified for retention were segregated 
from mining, and these were generally areas under 1 ,000 acres identified as 
valuable recreation areas, wildlife habitats, or cultural resource sites. 

Once the public land tenure issue was decided, BLM was ready to 
recognize special values on the public lands and designate special 
management areas. According to Assistant Director Jerry O'Callaghan, 
"the classification [process] identified public values which could have been 
lost in a case-by-case classification." BLM's first primitive areas, Paria 
Canyon and Aravaipa Canyon, were created through BLM land 
classification actions in 1969, along with the Vermillion Cliffs Natural 

According to former Director Marion Clawson, the Classification and 
Multiple Use Act "gave the Bureau a psychological lift that has led to its 
taking the initiative more and more often." The act made public 
involvement and interagency cooperation a permanent part of public land 
management. By July 1968, 1 88 local government boards and commissions 
had reviewed proposed classifications. More than 15,000 local officials 
participated in CMU public meetings and hearings. 


The Public Land Sale Act allowed BLM to sell tracts of land up to 5, 120 
acres "for the orderly growth and development of communities" after local 
zoning and planning had taken place. To implement the act, BLM District 
Managers met with local governments and planning commissions in ten test 
counties to develop cooperative procedures. 

The Act required that lands be classified under the CMU Act before they 
could be sold. Lands were then appraised and sold at fair market value to 
state or local governments or high bids were taken at auction from private 
individuals, organizations, or corporations meeting the act's criteria. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 




Area Offices 

Using the CMU Act as his authority, Charles Stoddard reorganized 
BLM in 1965 to integrate new programs. New divisions (wildlife, 
recreation, and watershed) were created in the Washington Office and the 
Bureau's line managers — State Directors and District Managers — were 
strengthened with new responsibilities to coordinate on-the-ground 
activities. Budget work and program evaluation were moved from BLM's 
program staffs and consolidated under the Assistant Director for 
Administration and the Division of Program Evaluation to further integrate 
and organize the Bureau's activities. 

By this time, added workloads and management responsibilities in the 
field were making BLM District Offices too large for managers to have a 
working knowledge of everything that occurred in their districts. An 
organizational study of BLM in 1964 by Dr. George Shipman of the 
University of Washington recommended that BLM change its 
organizational structure and management systems to provide better service 
to public land users. Another major conclusion, according to former 
Colorado State Director Dale Andrus, was that "coordinated land use 
decisions had to be made at the grass-roots level." 

Serving as a Management Analyst and Assistant Director in 
Washington in the 1960s, Andrus was responsible for much of the 
organizational work in creating BLM Resource Area Offices. According to 
Andrus, it was critical that the Bureau designate a single official to manage 
and be responsible for all BLM activities in a specific geographic area. 
These activities included land use planning, managing minerals and natural 


by Charles H. Stoddard 

The tired old emblem of user groups— the logger, cowboy, oil driller, 
and surveyor — produced a poor image, never had Bureau acceptance, and 
was too busy for reproduction. Accordingly, we held a contest in 1965 to 
develop a new emblem. The winning emblem features today's winding 
river, grassland, a conifer tree, and a mountain, snow-capped as a result of 
mountain climber Udall's suggestion. 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 

resources, processing lands cases, and providing information to the public. 
A general rule of thumb of three to four areas per district was set forth in the 
implementing instructions, according to Andrus. "Criteria used to identify 
Resource Area boundaries were kind and amount of workload, geographic 
barriers, political subdivisions, and watershed basins." 

By 1965, several Bureau field offices had already followed Idaho's lead 
in establishing "Division Managers" within Districts, making them 
responsible for management of specific geographic areas — with the 
District Offices providing planning and program coordination, plus 
technical and administrative assistance. Resource Area Offices were 
officially recognized in July 1966 in BLM Manual Section 1213.37. Special 
project offices or unit offices in O&C Districts (e.g., Tillamook, Oregon) 
were already performing this function; in other locations (e.g., Durango and 
Meeker, Colorado) former District Offices were converted into detached 
Resource Area Offices during statewide reorganizations. 


At the same time BLM was classifying its lands for retention in multiple 
use management or disposal to the private sector, the Public Land Law 
Review Commission was studying the nation's 3,000 land laws and federal 
management of the public domain to identify problems and recommend 
new policy, programs, and legislation. Its Chairman, Wayne Aspinall, had 
strong disagreements with BLM and the Department over how the Bureau 
was carrying out its responsibilities. 

The Public Land Law Review Commission (PLLRC) was established 
mainly through the efforts of Wayne Aspinall. While Presidents Kennedy 
and Johnson and the Interior Department were introducing conservation- 
related legislation to the Congress, Aspinall was trying to get Congress to 
rebuff these initiatives and establish federal land policy by itself. At the 
commission's first meeting, Aspinall was named chairman. Other members 
included six senators, six representatives, and six presidential appointees. 
An Advisory Council was formed with liaison officers from each of the 
land-managing agencies plus 25 members appointed by PLLRC to 
represent land users. 

PLLRC commissioned studies on commodities and land uses, 
intergovernmental relations, regional and local land use patterns, 
government management of public lands, and historical development of 
public land laws. Its reports included studies offish, wildlife, forage, and 
mineral resources; OCS lands; future demands for commodities; 
withdrawals and reservations; and virtually every other land management 
policy or activity BLM was involved in. Conservation groups and most of 
the public, however, were not involved in this process and ignored it, 
focusing their attention on wilderness debates, oil spills, and Alaska 
policies, plus passage of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 
and other conservation legislation. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

by Charles H. Stoddard 

Editor's Note: Charles Stoddard worked for the U.S. Forest 
Service, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and private 
research foundations, including Resources for the Future, 
and was director of Secretary Udall's Program Staff before 
serving as Director ofBLM. He holds degrees in forestry 
and for est economicsfrom the Universities ofWisconsin and 

During three years as Director, I oversaw major changes in 
organization structure, program direction, and land-use 
planning — changes that were designed to help BLM clarify 
its goals and evolve into today's multiple-use organization. 

Charles Stoddard 

Prior to my arrival, BLM had Professor George Shipman of 

the University of Washington study the Bureau's organization structure and recommend 
improvements. He saw the BLM as divided, uncoordinated, and unilateral in structure, citing 
its case-by-case orientation, its custodial (as opposed to managerial) approach, and its lack 
of a mission or goal. He went on to say, "Unless you can spell out a goal, a set of objectives, 
I can' t be of much value to you nor can I come up with any organizational recommendations. 
Organization must be tailored to mission." 

I feel my major contribution as Director was to help define our problems so that we could set 
forth clear objectives, and tailor BLM's organization structure to carry out programs that 
would meet these objectives. 

Following the analysis made by Professor Shipman, BLM went through a major Washington 
Office reorganization, going from a five-functional group structure (survey, minerals, lands, 
forestry , and range) to a basic staff and line structure. The line established was from Assistant 
Directors through the State Offices to the Districts. In addition, we replaced single purpose, 
case-by-case directives with coordinated instructions to field offices, amidst cries of protest 
from guardians of the status quo. 

In lieu of a regional office set up, Service Centers were established in Denver and PorUand 
to provide technical support to State and District offices. The Boise Interagency Fire Center 
was established in 1965. 

Legislative Developments — Except for the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 and the O&C 
Forestry Act of 1937, BLM was hemmed in by old disposal laws and special bills for relief 
of individual situations. This deadlock was broken by providing classification criteria in the 
new Classification and Multiple Use Act, which were applied to the lands prior to their 
retention or disposal. Because there would be impacts arising from changes in land use, we 
made certain that regulations provided a system of public meetings at the grass roots to 
institutionalize local participation in the land management decisionmaking process. This 
began a process for stabilizing the tenure of retained lands by the Public Land Law Review 
Commission and, ultimately, FLPMA. 

Resource Management Programs — Resource project work varied considerably in the 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 

field. It was carried on without effective technical guidelines from Washington or State 
Offices and was carried out by user request rather than program need. For example, when 
BLM field staffs initiated soil and water conservation projects, many were installed off the 
contour — thus increasing erosion. 

BLM's grazing management lacked modern range management techniques such as rotation 
grazing. I asked Dr. Glen Fulcher from the University of Nevada to head up our Range Staff. 
Fulcher brought in Gus Hormay, a Forest Service researcher who had developed a "rest- 
rotation" grazing system designed to bring about range reestablishment in over-grazed areas 
without reseeding. Enthusiasm for this new approach grew: when I left BLM an average of 
one rancher per District had a rotation plan under practice. 

Management of the Bureau's forest land was subject to considerable pressure from user 
groups seeking regular increases in allowable cut limits. We curtailed excessive expansion 
of these sustained yield limits in several confrontations where the public interest was able to 
override local pressures. 

Much of the Bureau's Soil and Moisture funds were allocated to range improvements — not 
to eroding lands nor to efforts to restore overgrazed lands. A special Frail Lands Study, 
undertaken in 1964 by Cyril Jensen and Clarence Forsling, identified about 45 million acres 
of public land on which accelerated erosion was taking place. Senator Hayden was instru- 
mental in obtaining appropriations for BLM to begin genuine erosion control efforts. 

Although the Bureau had authority for managing wildlife habitat under the Taylor Grazing 
Act, no active program was in operation nor were funds directed to this purpose. In 1964, Bob 
Smith (former Arizona Game and Fish Director) put wildlife on an equal footing with forestry 
and recreation. Al Day, former Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, examined the 
wildlife program and laid out plans for habitat improvement, location of wildlife managers 
in Districts with heaviest wildlife resources, and a variety of special projects. 

Land Use Planning — Multiple use management plans had never been instituted in the 
Bureau because of its single-purpose approach (range, forestry, etc.). A workable planning 
system, the Unit Resource Analysis, was implemented after considerable testing in the field. 
URAs provided the Bureau's first means of integrating all project work and land use for a 
District into a management system. 

Personnel Matters — Modern resource management requires not only technical expertise 
from many disciplines but also knowledge of social sciences and administrators who can 
blend all disciplines into a unified program. I sought to encourage "generalists" in the Bureau 
and to give them a separate ladder for advancement. Lacking any trained land use planners 
in BLM, I instituted a special program at the University of Wisconsin in regional planning. 

Minority group employment in BLM lagged. This was partly because of inertia and a lack 
of people trained in the fields needed by BLM. I initiated efforts to recruit Native Americans 
in areas near BLM operations plus blacks from southern agricultural schools. 

In my opinion the Bureau of Land Management has some of the best trained personnel 
available in government. I'm proud to have been associated with these fine employees and 
look back with pride on my years with the BLM. To assure a solid future, BLM must remain 
a land management agency — in place of its real estate disposal past. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

In 1970 PLLRC released its report, "One Third of the Nation's Land." 
Reflecting Aspinall's sentiments, it asked Congress to establish policy on 
a variety of public land matters. The report recommended that all federal 
lands not specifically set aside by Congress, such as national forests and 
monuments, be made eligible for disposal— but in another section stated 
that the nation's policy of disposing the unappropriated public domain be 

PLLRC also proposed merging the Forest Service and BLM into a 
Department of Natural Resources (a proposal soon taken up by Presidents 
Nixon and Carter). The commission recommended that Congress limit the 
exercise of Executive authority, especially on withdrawals, and called for 
Congress to determine revenues for consumptive uses of federal lands. 
PLLRC further recommended grants of federal funds to states and counties 
in lieu of taxes. 

In these proposals, PLLRC proved prophetic: Congress soon began 
prescribing specific management techniques and standards to be followed 
by federal agencies, thus limiting their traditional discretion in management 
actions and policy implementation. But PLLRC's report, though 
voluminous, was often contradictory. Its recommendation to classify public 
lands for their "highest and best use" was seen as an endorsement of 
dominant use over multiple use on the public lands. 

Life Magazine reported that the PLLRC report was written by people 
"who believe in the commodity approach ... and consequently it gallops 
headlong in the wrong direction." Sports Illustrated said that Aspinall's 
commission recommended "accelerated exploitation and disposal of the 
lands" and that its recommendations were made "on the basis of little 
publicized hearings and highly secretive deliberations." Professor Paul 
Culhane reflected that "many of the commission's recommendations 
appeared to have little impact on federal policy, perhaps because they 
seemed too pro-industry and out of step with the times when released during 
the fervent early years of environmentalist activism. However, the PLLRC 
firmly asserted that the era of disposal of public lands was over." 

Thus, while President Nixon proclaimed NEPA as heralding the start of 
an environmental decade in 1970, PLLRC "played to an empty theater" 
according to Dr. Sally Fairfax. But few others in Congress or elsewhere had 
examined public land issues. PLLRC's studies and recommendations were 
available when the public and Congress were ready to address public lands 
issues — which would be soon. PLLRC compiled a great deal of information 
and opened a discussion that continued through passage of the Federal Land 
Policy and Management Act. 


"If we are to maintain man's proper relationship with 
nature., .we must broaden the role of resource planning 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 

in the management of our national affairs." 

[DOI Annual Report - 1961] 

Implementing multiple use management on the public lands required 
planning. And effective planning required that the public be involved in 
BLM's decisionmaking process. Once this was begun, there would be no 
turning back; the public took an increasing interest in BLM and increasingly 
did not agree with the agency's management. 

The story of planning in the 1960s is the eventual development of 
Management Framework Plans (MFPs), integrating all of the Bureau's on- 
the-ground activities into a single effort. As a first step, the Bureau needed 
a way to develop land use plans independently of the applications it 
received. The Master Unit system was created in 1961 for BLM to decide 
on land tenure before reacting to specific land-use applications. Units of 
study (Master Units) were defined, information gathered, and the data 
analyzed to determine potential land uses. The Bureau then categorized its 
lands into title transfer projects, land management projects, and residual 
management areas where detailed land-use plans would not be appropriate. 

In 1963, working with state agencies and county commissions, BLM 
developed a plan to coordinate Recreation and Public Purposes Act (R&PP) 
land transfers in the Las Vegas area and manage the remaining public lands. 
Citizen groups were involved on a recreation subcommittee while county 
commissions developed overall plans. 

Once the CMU act passed, BLM Director Charles Stoddard created the 
Office of Program Evaluation in Washington to develop a multiple use 
planning process for the field. BLM's challenge was to devise a planning 
system that would incorporate individual activity plans (master unit, 
allotment management, and watershed plans) into more general area plans. 
The system had to be clearly understood by employees, constituents, and 
the public, and be standardized enough to ensure consistent results across 
the Bureau. It also needed to integrate the resource allocation techniques 
used by different programs. 

Stoddard, originally from Wisconsin, knew of a successful land use 
planning system used in his state during the 1920s and 1930s. The system 
featured land classification and zoning procedures — plus participation and 
approval from the public before final decisions were reached — and served 
as a model for BLM's system. Nevertheless, implementation of a 
comprehensive planning system represented a major organizational change 
for the Bureau. Field managers needed to be convinced that a uniform, 
Bureauwide land use planning system was needed when they were used to 
doing these jobs in their own ways. Several attempts and many years were 
necessary to implement a workable system. To encourage the process, 
Stoddard began sending BLM managers to the University of Wisconsin for 
training in regional land use planning. 

BLM's first step was to identify planning units and collect resource 
data. Unit Resource Analyses (URAs) were prepared to summarize 
resource inventory data collected in planning units. Social and economic 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


data were also collected so that they could be considered when it came time 
to develop management alternatives. 

But then what? More than a few field managers were apprehensive 
about a system that would require public involvement and identify 
management alternatives before BLM arrived at decisions. Why should 
BLM tip its hand to users and the public in the early stages of its 
decisionmaking process? In many districts, BLM would have enough 
controversy to handle once a final decision was made. 

Finding a way for each program and the public to identify and advocate 
resource uses — and follow them through the process so that no potential 
was overlooked — was tricky. How would disagreements be resolved? How 
much would the public be involved in decisionmaking? BLM planners had 
a long way to go to convince BLM field offices that planning was a good 
and necessary thing — and that using the system to address and resolve 
differences among land users would save the Bureau from repeated 
headaches in the future. 

An important step in getting MFPs off the ground was testing the 
process in the field and showing it would work. In 1968, Art Zimmerman, 
District Manager of the Montrose District in Colorado, asked to test the 
process to see if it could help resolve strong disagreements on resource 
allocations among the district's user groups. After this and further tests in 
Oregon and California proved successful, MFPs were ready to be 
implemented in the field. 


According to Director Stoddard, "BLM's minerals activity could 
hardly be called a program" in the early 1960s. The Geological Survey 
classified minerals, approved exploration and mining plans, and monitored 
this activity, which "prevented BLM from giving effective direction to 
location, rate, and timing of mineral exploration and development." 

Secretary Udall and BLM worked throughout the decade to develop a 
minerals policy, one that ensured optimum returns of revenue to the 
Treasury, resolved land use conflicts, and planned for adequate mineral 
reserves in the future. The Interior Department's Annual Report for 1962 
had this to say about minerals: "In the past 30 years, this Nation has 
consumed more minerals than all the peoples of the world had previously 
used. ...That current demands are being met without difficulty is primarily 
due to the immense technical and exploratory efforts of the 1940s and early 
1950s. But with national requirements constantly increasing, the present 
availability of raw materials will not continue unless prompt action is taken 
to look to the years ahead." 

Before the mid-1940s, coal provided over half of America's energy 
needs. Oil and gas rapidly supplanted it as the nation's preferred fuel after 
World War II. However, interest in public coal reserves revived in the 1 960s 
due to advances in coal utilization, processing, and transportation. Coal in 
the West was viewed as an important future energy source because of its low 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 

sulfur content — an important asset in reducing air pollution. 

Half of the country's coal reserves occur west of the Mississippi River 
and the government owns 60 percent of it, or about a third of the nation's 
total. BLM was sitting on 75 million acres of federally owned coal. Major 
hydroelectric facilities had already been built and few new sites were 
available. Early warnings about declining oil and gas supplies were largely 
unheeded by the public. The Interior Department, however, readied itself 
for future demands for coal. Secretary Udall created the Office of Coal 
Research to complement the Bureau of Mines' research efforts. 

Major U.S. coal fields 

During the 40 years following passage of the General Mineral Leasing 
Act of 1920, GLO and BLM issued an average of only four coal leases a 
year. From 1960-69, that average increased to 31 per year. By 1971, 17 
billion tons of federal coal were under lease, enough to satisfy America's 
coal needs for 25 years. Most of these leases, however, were speculative: 70 
percent were not producing. Major development of coal came soon after, 
though, following the energy crisis of 1973. 

Oil shale reserves were estimated to amount to 2 trillion barrels of 
petroleum, compared to onshore and offshore oil reserves of 300 to 500 
billion barrels. The problem with developing oil shale, however, was the 
extreme heat (and expense) needed to process the shale. 

Secretary Udall appointed an Oil Shale Advisory Board to study the 
situation and recommend policy. Because the group had diverse points of 
view, an interim (but never final) report was released in 1965. The board 
agreed that knowledge of oil shale needed to be enhanced and that "the 
national interest is best served by the immediate commencement of oil shale 

Oil Shale 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Oil and Gas 

In 1967, Udall announced a tentative oil shale program to clear title to 
oil shale lands by withdrawing them from other forms of mineral entry, 
blocking up oil shale ownerships through an exchange program, issuing 
provisional development leases, and cooperating with industry to develop 
better processing methods. The program sought to encourage oil shale 
development, prevent speculation, promote good conservation, and bring 
money into the Treasury. In late 1968 a number of oil shale leases were 
opened to competitive bidding, but the offers were rejected by BLM as 
being too low. 

The oil and gas leasing frenzy that characterized the late 1950s 
stabilized in the 1960s. Onshore fluid mineral revenues rose modestly, from 
$178 million in 1961 to $233 million in 1971. 

Exploration continued throughout Alaska. By the middle of the decade, 
oil and gas accounted for 60 percent of Alaska's mineral output and brought 
in $19 million to the state treasury. By 1970, there were five oil fields on the 
Kenai Peninsula and Cook Inlet area and nine natural gas fields. 

The biggest oil strike was at Prudhoe B ay by Atlantic Richfield in 1 968 . 
Alaska estimated that revenues to the state could run as much as $1 million 
a day — which they eventually did. What was needed was a pipeline to get 
the oil out of Alaska. In 1969, ARCO, Humble, and British Petroleum 




Offshore oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 

announced plans to build a pipeline from the North Slope to Valdez, 
stretching 800 miles across the state and costing $900 million. In June the 
Trans- Alaska Pipeline System — later the Alyeska Pipeline Company — 
filed a right-of-way application with BLM, with plans to start construction 
in the spring of 1 970. These plans were contingent on settling Native claims 
and were ultimately affected by the passage of the National Environmental 
Policy Act. 

Revenues from the Outer Continental Shelf lands grew dramatically in 
the 60s, from $442 million in 1961 to $1.1 billion in 1971. Development of 
this resource occurred from the humblest of beginnings in 1959, when only 
$3.4 million was collected. 

OCS Lands 

Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Mineral Leasing Statistics 1961-1970 


Gulf Coast 

West Coast 

Total Production 





Natural Gas 
(1,000 cu. ft.) 

(million bbl) 







































































In 1963 BLM opened an OCS leasing office in Los Angeles and held 
its first lease sale on the West Coast, bringing in $12.8 million for 58 tracts. 
But most offshore action remained on the Gulf Coast. In 1963, OCS oil 
production off the Louisiana coast represented 27 percent of total federal oil 
production, while gas represented 37 percent. By 1967 more than 4 million 
acres of OCS lands were leased by BLM, but this total represented less than 
1 percent of OCS lands with ocean depths of less than 600 feet. 


The two biggest issues for Alaska in the 60s were the selection of 
statehood grant lands and settlement of land claims made by Alaska 
Natives. Alaska handled its state selections through its Division of Lands. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

The Division's first chief was ex-BLM employee Roscoe Bell, who had 
been Associate Director and then Regional Administrator in Portland under 
Marion Clawson. 

Bell's plan was to select lands that would further the economic 
development of the state. Four million acres were selected a year, or as he 
put it, "an area the size of Rhode Island every two months," so that all 103 
million acres due the state would be selected in the 25 years allowed by 

Alaska's selections during this period were characterized by state 
officials as "small but carefully calculated." In 1964, the state selected lands 
at Prudhoe Bay that it thought had oil and gas potential. How right they 

To help the state select land, BLM received additional funding for its 
surveys. Only 1 percent of the state was surveyed under the Public Land 
Survey System by the time Alaska was granted statehood. The Bureau 
therefore concentrated its efforts on surveying state selections, planning to 
survey 4 million acres a year to match Bell's selection schedule. 

Alaska's sheer size required that new survey techniques be developed. 
Electronic distance measuring devices were used in the field; helicopters 
marked section corners and transported survey crews throughout the state. 

Problems immediately arose with the program, however. The state 
refused BLM's request to select large areas forming "logical topographic- 
geographic-economic units." Alaska interpreted its right to select 
"reasonably compact tracts" in its statehood act as being 5,760 acres — a 
quarter township. With involvement of Alaska's congressional delegation 
and Assistant Secretary John Carver, the issue was resolved in the state's 

Alaska's biggest problem proved to be the claims of its Natives. The 
U.S. had not recognized aboriginal title for Alaska Natives, who consist of 
Eskimos, Aleuts, and Indians, as it did for Indians in the lower 48 states. 
Instead, in 1906 Congress passed the Native Allotment Act, which allotted 
each Indian and Eskimo 160 acres of nonmineral public land but made no 
reference to Aleuts. Because the law had no provision for passing title, the 
"allotments" were nothing more than perpetual reservations. Provisions for 
patent weren't made until 1956; by 1962, only 101 allotments had been 
made under the act. 

Beginning as early as 1950, Alaska Natives petitioned to have lands 
restored to them. In June 1963, BLM stopped processing state selections in 
areas specifically protested by Natives until Congress could act on their 
claims. By 1966, Alaska Natives claimed some 230 million acres of land. 

Secretary Udall initiated an informal freeze that stopped approvals on 
all state selections. Alaska then took Udall to court. Facing an adverse ruling 
in December 1968, Udall formally withdrew 260 million acres of public 
land from appropriation, asking Congress to resolve the situation. Because 
Native claims were also delaying selection of a route for the Alaska 
pipeline, Congress enacted the the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 


by Roscoe E. Bell 
Former Director of Alaska Division of State Lands 

I had worked for BLM in Alaska in the mid-1950s. When I returned to Alaska as State 
Director of Lands, my acquaintance with Alaska and with BLM personnel was very helpful, 
and very important, and I just wanted to compliment the BLM personnel in Alaska. They 
leaned over backwards to help us get started in the State selection process. Of course, they 
trained some of the people that we hired away from them, but it was a tremendous help to have 
a cooperative government agency to work with. 

BLM personnel had been very influential in the draft of the Alaska Land Act of 1959. 
Through them we got a really effective land act for Alaska. They recognized the problems 
with the grants made to early states and wanted to avoid the same happening to Alaska. 

When it came to processing land selections, BLM was very cooperative. When the State 
wanted lands in areas withdrawn from selection, BLM did everything they could to jar loose 
revocation orders to lift withdrawals so we could select the land and proceed with leasing. 

We set up our land records system along BLM lines so we could coordinate land records, 
surveys, land selections, timber management, and fire protection with the Bureau. 

We had very good cooperation from BLM for protection of the lands during the transition 
stage. At times, we'd make a selection and get tentative approval of the selection. This gave 
the State management authority of the land but we wouldn't get patent until the survey was 
made and finally filed, which took 3 years or more. BLM gave us free forest protection for 
the period between selection and patent so we could go ahead and manage. Alaska had very 
little money at that time and we needed fire protection of our future lands. 

In the details of the land survey program, we had quite a knock-down, drag-out argument with 
BLM Director Karl Landstrom , but we had BLM support in Alaska.Under the S tatehood Act, 
Alaska could make selections of a certain minimum size and BLM would survey the exterior 
boundaries of those selections. Well, Landstrom wanted us to make larger selections, to 
minimize BLM's surveying job. Now, the State of Alaska did not have any money to pay for 
the survey of smaller selections. I wanted to get the maximum amount of surveys from BLM, 
so we made our selections in a pattern of half-townships, which were twice as large as the 
minimum size required. By this method, we would get a pattern of survey corner monumen- 
tations mat would give us a basic survey net over land we'd selected. We went to the mat with 
Karl. But with prodding from our Congressional delegation and others, we got Assistant 
Secretary John Carver to go long with our idea. 

There were many other places where we could have gotten bound up forever in trying to work 
out problems. But as one BLM man in Anchorage said, "why quibble over details, after all, 
we're Alaskans too, and we are as anxious as you to see Alaska statehood work." It was a good 
relationship, and I was real proud of the relationship and spirit of cooperation we had with 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Under State Director Burt Silcock, BLM Alaska classified over 32 
million acres of land in the state for retention under the Classification and 
Multiple Use Act. An additional 38 million acres of lands were proposed for 
classification at the time the act expired, but most of the areas were included 
in Secretary Udall's Public Land Orders withdrawing them from 


Continuing a post- World War II trend, more and more Americans had 
more leisure time. They were better educated and more aware of the nation's 
public land resources. In hearings throughout the nation, the Outdoor 
Recreation Resources Review Commission (ORRRC) identified 
recreational opportunities on federal lands, including BLM holdings. The 
public was beginning to see that BLM lands offered long seasons of use and 
considerable variety. 

In 1961, BLM's Oregon State Office issued a recreation handbook 
containing policy, planning, site design, development, and maintenance 
criteria. The Bureau hired its first landscape architects in the field that year 
and gave them recreation assignments. State Offices began to hire full-time 
recreation specialists. 

The Public Works Acceleration Act of 1 962 provided federal assistance 
to areas hard hit by recession and provided the Bureau its first major funding 
for recreation site development ($ 1 .9 million), mainly for campgrounds and 
picnic sites. In New Mexico, picnic sites, trails, and campgrounds were built 
at the Rio Grande Gorge in the Taos Resource Area. 

When the ORRRC's final report was issued in 1962, a logjam of 
pending legislation was introduced in Congress, including the Outdoor 
Recreation Cooperation Act, the National Wilderness Act, and the Land and 
Water Conservation Fund Act. Secretary Udall created the Bureau of 
Outdoor Recreation that year to coordinate federal, state, and local 
recreation planning and to provide grants to states that drew up outdoor 
recreation plans. 

In 1963 a Bureauwide recreation inventory was begun to identify 
recreation sites, areas, and complexes, with this information being passed 
along to the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation. While most of this work was 
site-oriented, several trails were identified. In its 1965 report, "Trails for 
America," the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation identified over 3,600 miles of 
trails on public lands and noted BLM's proposal to add 5,000 miles of new 
or rebuilt trails. 

In 1964 the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act 
authorized funds for the development of state and local parks and expanded 
federal land acquisition programs for recreation — including acquisitions 
for BLM recreation areas. Funds were raised from taxes on recreational 
equipment, user fees in recreation areas, and general appropriations. 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 


by Ralph M. Conrad 
Natural Resource Specialist, Division of Lands 

Large and frequently successful programs often have small innocent beginnings. BLM's 
beginning in off-road vehicle management, as I recall, is a case in point. Some of the dates 
are fuzzy with the passage of time, but the players and circumstances are well remembered. 

It all started in 1 967 in a remote desert canyon in Arizona. The initial players, a group of Girl 
Scouts and their leader, a Phoenix newspaper man (Don Dedera), were still in their sleeping 
bags in the early light of dawn. As later reported by Mr. Dedera in the Arizona Republic, an 
annoying mosquito buzz steadily grew into a roar as two motorcycles bore down on the 
sleeping-bag-encumbered Girl Scout troop. Mr. Dedera successfully removed himself from 
his sleeping bag and flagged down the second biker. Upon being asked what was going on, 
the biker reportedly said, "If you think this is something, wait until this afternoon — we have 
a race coming through here." When asked who authorized the race the reply was, "No one— 
these are public lands." Orren Beaty, then Four Comers Commissioner, clipped the Dedera 
column and forwarded it to Secretary Udall with a short note asking if something could be 
done about uncontrolled motor vehicle use in the desert. The Secretary bucked the Dedera 
column and Beaty note to Director Rasmussen with the added instructions: "Do something." 

The Secretary's instructions filtered down through the BLM Directorate to the Chief of the 
Recreation Staff (Eldon Holmes). The Bureau's outdoor recreation program was in its 
infancy; most of its funding was derived from BLM's lands program. There was no policy 
or regulatory base upon which to justify a program. Draft regulations to establish the outdoor 
recreation program had been developed by the time the Secretary's instructions arrived but 
were having little success getting through the surname process. Therefore, since ORV 
regulation had the support of the Secretary, it was decided to interweave the ORV regulations 
into the draft outdoor recreation regulations and kill two regulatory birds with one stone. This 
would respond to the Secretary's specific instructions while establishing the needed 
regulatory base for the Bureau's outdoor recreation program. 

Even with Secretarial backing, the regulatory package had limited success. The Democratic 
Administration lost the election in November 1968. A new administration would take its 
place on January 20, 1969. By mid-January, last minute programs of the outgoing admini- 
stration were being finalized. At about that time, word was received that the Secretary was 
still interested in ORV regulations. Over the next several evenings Assistant Director Eugene 
Zumwalt, Eleanor Schwartz, Eldon Holmes and I burned the midnight oil finalizing the 
regulation package. In the late evening of January 16, 1969, Assistant Director Zumwalt 
handcarried the regulatory package to Secretary Udall for signature. The regulauons were 
effective upon publication in the Federal Register on January 18, 1969. 

Shortly after publication of the regulations, Bill Leavell (Program Staff) requested a briefing 
on die intent of the ORV portion. When asked why, he explained that he was being reassigned 
to California and that State Director Russ Penny wanted to get on top of ORV management 
in the California desert. The result of their work was the establishment of the Off-Road 
Vehicle Advisory Council in 1 969 and the initiation of management of OR V use on the public 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by J. Russell Penny 
California State Director — Retired 

I became California State Director in May 1966. Shortly thereafter I toured its five districts 
to become informed of their major problems. The Riverside District Manager informed me 
of an upcoming motorcycle race. Although he had never seen one, he understood it would 
involve several hundred motorcycles (there turned out to be 600) racing over many miles of 
federal and private lands without any authorization. I requested that he have the race observed 
and pictures taken. 

The pictures proved to be a shocking portrayal of soil and vegetative destruction. Moreover, 
many of these races were occurring along with individual use of all kinds of recreational 
vehicles. I suddenly realized that heavily populated California presented a new dimension 
in public land management: "people management." 

I presented the motorcycle pictures to Director Boyd Rassmussen at a State Directors meeting 
with a request for the National Park Service to assist BLM in conducting a study of the 
recreational uses and resources in what became known as the Southern California Desert. 

The Park Service's participation was especially significant to provide credibility to the study. 
The California Desert, released in November 1968, primarily identified recreational re- 
sources and uses of the desert (e.g., over 2 million visitor-use days annually) and made some 
conceptual management suggestions. An important one was the identification of 19 areas 
having significant recreational values that were proposed to be classified for retention in 
public ownership and comprehensive management plans developed. It was further recom- 
mended that departmental policies be strengthened to recognize recreational values. A BLM 
Ranger Force and a system of way stations were proposed to assist in the recreational 
program. The report also recommended a program be developed ensuring full public 
participation in planning for the future of the area and that a comprehensive plan covering all 
aspects of the California Desert be developed. 

Phase II of the study, The California Desert — a Critical Environmental Challenge, was 
completed in January 1970. It expanded the study to include all uses and resources, and 
envisioned taking 5 years to complete a long-range management plan. To protect and 
maintain important resources during this critical period, the immediate implementation of an 
"Interim Management Program" was recommended. This was to be implemented in part by 
the establishment of a uniformed ranger protection and maintenance operation. 

I was struck with the similarity of the situation that existed in the California Desert and that 
of the public domain when I came to work for the Division of Grazing in 1937. The users were 
antagonistic. There was little pertinent knowledge of the recreational resources, uses, or 
management needs of the public lands, nor were there pertinent rules, regulations and laws 
for administration. Borrowing from the highly successful advisory board system of BLM's 
past I organized and appointed the "Off -Road Vehicle Advisory Council (ORVAC)" in June 
1969. It consisted of 15 members made up of representatives of user groups and of city, 
county, state, and federal agencies. An early principle developed was that "off-road vehicle 
use of BLM lands was a legitimate use but it must be a managed use." 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 

The California Desert embraced over 16 million acres then administered out of the Riverside 
and Bakersfield District Offices. We concluded that while the Interim Management Pro- 
grams should be the responsibilities of the District Offices, the planning program was to be 
for the California Desert as a whole under the direction of a Planning Director stationed at 
Riverside and reporting direcUy to the California State Director. In 1 97 1 funds and personnel 
were provided for the California Desert Planning Program. 

The Interim Management Program consisted primarily of confining ORV use to designated 
areas. A policy was formulated to confine ORV use to areas of past heavy use and to prevent 
encroachment on other areas until after the comprehensive plan was developed. 

Motorcycle races were originally authorized by letters of authorization with little opposition. 
This procedure was soon declared unlawful, however, and special land use permits were 
thereafter required. This included restricting the course so as to best protect the resources, 
monitoring the races, and charging fees. Rules and regulations had to be developed from 
scratch. The ORV groups, especially the motorcycle groups, were defiant. Soon five lawsuits 
were filed in the federal courts by the motorcycle groups contesting the BLM's legal 
authority. The BLM actions were upheld in every instance. 

At this time there was very little interest in the California Desert by environmental groups. 
Army request, the local representative of the Sierra Club was solicited by the Riverside 
District Manager to intervene in the BLM's behalf in the pending lawsuits. They did. 
Thereafter the environmental groups became increasingly active. 

The BLM was performing these activities without additional funding or staffing. As a result 
District personnel were contributing many hours of their own time to get the job done, 
especially in monitoring motorcycle races on weekends. In 1972 Environmental Impact 
Statements or Assessments were required for all Special Use Permits. This resulted in the 
denial of some ORV events with much negative reaction. 

Several supportive articles appeared nationally, however, in Reader's Digest, Time, and Na- 
tional Wildlife Magazine. Extensive tours and meetings were held. In 1972 Secretary Morton, 
at a ceremony in the Imperial Sand Dunes, dedicated the 19 areas (totalling 2.7 million acres) 
identified in Phase I of the study as National Recreation Lands. Later in the day Secretary 
Morton led a "Town Hall" meeting regarding the California Desert before a packed house at 
El Centro, California. There was a spirited exchange of ideas. Morton expressed his support 
of the California Desert. Some of his statements set forth important policy. 

In 1972 a contractual study was made setting forth the funding and manpower needs required 
to administer the California Desert. In 1973 limited funding and manpower was earmarked 
for the California Desert Program, including the hiring of six Desert Rangers and construc- 
tion of the Barstow way station, which was dedicated in 1974. 

During this time BLM was without legal authority to enforce federal regulations. Action had 
to be requested of the local law enforcement agencies. Congress became aware of the impor- 
tance and needs of the California Desert and incorporated its concerns into the Federal Land 
Policy and Management Act. A full-blown management and planning program for the 
California Desert was now required by law, with funding and manpower assured. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Amendments to the act in 1968 provided a broader financial base and direct 
appropriations from OCS revenues to achieve an annual minimum of $200 
million. In 10 years this base was increased to $900 million. 

But it was the Classification and Multiple Use Act that gave recreation 
its official status as a Bureau program; recreation was identified as a value 
public lands would be managed for, thus providing a basis for congressional 

Recreational visits to public lands more than tripled from 1963-68, 
increasing to 30 million. BLM's first regular funding for recreation 
($700,000) was appropriated in 1965. Nine often recreation facilities on the 
public lands in 1968 were built after 1963. Recognizing recreation's 
significance, Director Boyd Rasmussen said that BLM lands "are now 
being used more for recreation than for any other purpose." 

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 established a national system 
of wild, scenic, and recreational rivers which were to be authorized by 
Congress or designated by the states. The Rogue River in Oregon and the 
Rio Grande in New Mexico (including quarter-mile-wide strips of land on 
each side) were two of eight rivers passing through BLM lands to receive 
this designation. The act established a river study process, identified 27 
rivers for further study, and outlined requirements for their management 
and protection. Land and Water Conservation Fund monies were used to 
purchase scenic easements on more than 2,000 acres of private lands along 
the Rogue River. 

The National Trails System Act of 1968, as amended, authorized the 
designation of scenic trails by Congress and recreational trails by the 
Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior. Two scenic trails, the Appalachian 
and Pacific Crest, were designated in the act, which also placed 14 trails in 
a study category and prohibited motorized vehicles on National Scenic 
Trails. The act was amended by the National Parks and Recreation Act of 
1978, which added a National Historic Trail category and designated five 
historic trails, all of which involved BLM — the Mormon Pioneer, 
Continental Divide, Lewis and Clark, Pacific Crest, and Iditarod trails. 


Passage of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) in 1966 did 
not immediately influence BLM until regulations for the act were finally 
adopted in 1974. The Denver Service Center, however, added an 
archaeologist to its staff. The act created the National Register of Historic 
Places to list significant historic and archaeological properties, defined as 
"any prehistoric or historic district, site, building, structure, or object," and 
established an Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to advise 
agencies on preservation matters. 

Section 106 of the act required agencies to account for the effects of 
their undertakings on National Register properties and directed the 
Advisory Council to supervise a consultation process dealing with impacts 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 

of federal activities on National Register properties or potential properties. 
These provisions served as a model for NEPA — the ideas of an independent 
advisory council, a consultation process, and a review of federal actions 
would be seen again, and though discounted at first, would have major 
impacts on federal agencies. 

While no specific policy or guidance existed on paleontological 
resources, BLM's interest in them was growing. The Act of September 28, 
1962, which addressed the disposal of a variety of mineral and vegetative 
materials, contained provisions for the management, sale, and use of 
petrified wood. Regulations for the free use of these materials, including 
petrified wood, on the public lands were issued by BLM in 1964. 

In 1965, the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry was designated a 
National Natural Landmark. BLM began to manage the quarry as a 
recreational site in 1966 and opened a visitor center there in 1968. Como 
Bluff, Wyoming, the site of a world-famous late Jurassic dinosaur quarry, 
was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1966. In addition to these 
formal actions, individual employees conducted paleontological surveys 
and mitigation projects as time and other duties allowed. 


BLM's range program mirrored the Bureau's rapid evolution and 
change. Adjudication of grazing privileges and production of forage were 
no longer primary goals, only components of multiple use management. In 
the mid-60s, Allotment Management Plans (AMPs) were developed, in 
which BLM and livestock operators jointly set goals for forage (both 
livestock and wildlife), soil stabilization, and recreation use by the public. 
The range resource would be managed intensively, with rest-rotation 
grazing systems, deferred grazing, and/or full-year grazing, with 
adjustments in livestock numbers (expressed in animal unit months) to 
bring about improvements in range condition. 

AMPs were developed for single allotments as specific plans to be 
implemented under more general land use plans. Initially criticized by the 
livestock industry, the Bureau met with operators and groups to explain the 
program and incorporate their concerns in the process. But, reflecting the 
rise in interest from new groups (and their different perspectives), BLM 
next found its plans criticized by conservationists. Finding a middle ground 
that included good resource management techniques was to become the 
Bureau's challenge of the future. 

AMPs were prepared jointly by permittees and BLM range 
conservationists, who toured the rancher's allotment to set goals for 
improving forage. Data on soil, forage, and economic conditions were used 
by the Bureau in writing a proposed AMP. The range employee then 
discussed the plan with the rancher, making changes both felt advisable. 
The AMP was then implemented and reviewed annually to monitor 
progress in meeting allotment objectives. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Bureau employees have worked with generations of public land users to develop land use plans 
that ensure the sustained productivity ofBLM rangelands. 

Vale Project 

Grazing Fees 

The Vale Project marked a significant departure for BLM's range 
program — a shift away from mostly managing livestock numbers to 
managing the range itself. In addition to implementing new grazing 
systems, brush control, and water developments, BLM experimented with 
the introduction of normative grasses and the use of herbicides to improve 
rangeland forage. Lands were also exchanged to create better management 

BLM initiated programs to combat soil erosion, protect watersheds, and 
improve forage for both livestock and wildlife. Ranchers in the Vale District 
contributed labor to help build many of the range improvements (including 
72,000 miles of fence, 1,600 water developments and 460 miles of water 
pipelines) and agreed to use new grazing systems on their allotments. 

Congress provided $10 million over 1 1 years for the project, beginning 
in 1963. Brush was controlled on 506,000 acres, and 267,000 acres were 
reseeded (including 58,000 acres of winter habitat formule deer). AUMs in 
the District increased from 285,000 in 1962 to 438,000 in 1975. 

Because brush control and reseeding covered only 8 percent of the total 
land area, most of the increases resulted from use of rest-rotation and 
deferred grazing systems. Projects patterned after the Vale Project spread 
to Beowawe (Nevada), Big Horn (Wyoming), Owyhee (Idaho), and Rio 
Puerco (New Mexico) but were not funded to the extent the Vale Project 

In 1962, Secretary Udall informed BLM's National Advisory Board 
Council and permittees that grazing fees were under review and that 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 


by Max Lieurance 
District Manager, Vale, Oregon: Wyoming State Office-Retired 

The Vale Project came about in 1 962 after years 
of controversy and frustration over the di- 
lemma of depleted rangelands. Then a political 
"window" opened, resulting in unprecedented 
support for necessary appropriations by two 
influential members of the Oregon Congres- 
sional Delegation, Senator Wayne Morse and 
Congressman Al Ullman. Authorization for the 
project offered the first real opportunity for the 
Bureau of Land Management to break through 
into full management of the rangeland 
ecosystem. It was also an opportunity to gain 
needed public confidence and the attention and 
respect of peer resource management agencies 
and institutions. 

Max Lieurance (left), pilot, and 

Congressman Al Ullman prepare to tour 

rehabilitation project. 

Prior to 1962, the Vale District was working through the so-called "adjudication of grazing 
privileges" which in nearly every situation produced inventory data indicating insufficient 
available livestock forage for existing licensed use. The inventories were extensive and the 
funding capability of BLM was such that it was virtually impossible to explore improved 
management alternatives which would deal with improving the rangeland ecosystem to any 
practical degree. The result was years of litigation over grazing reductions which, by 
themselves, would solve few problems; the waste of resources in endless legal controversy; 
the inability of BLM managers to apply their technical skills because of limited personnel and 
funding for support projects; and, most important, the rangeland resource continued to 
deteriorate while political battles raged. 

The Vale project, then, was offered as a solution. A plan was prepared by the Vale district 
staff which basically said "give me the resources to work with and I can turn the program 
around in short order (originally seven years). The potential is there, the technical knowledge 
is there, the competent people are available in BLM, the livestock users and other interest 
groups such as wildlife and conservation organizations are more than willing to cooperate." 
The support in Congress by the Oregon delegation was the key to funding and the project was 
launched in 1962. 

The project effort concentrated on management of the vegetation resource for both its 
consumptive use by livestock and wildlife and its non-consumptive needs for cover for a 
myriad of wildlife species, soil stability, and water quality enhancement. The project was 
watched closely (even nervously by some) over a period of years and to everyone's relief 
(even surprise) has been judged a resounding success. Independent technical evaluations in 
1975 and again in 1985 have confirmed its success. 

The project has received international recognition as a model of large-scale rangeland 
rehabilitation through intensive management coupled with facilitating improvement. Its 
continuing value for demonstration and education remains virtually untapped. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

pressure from Congress and the Executive Branch was mounting to increase 
fees. The Department proposed to change the factor used in the 1958 
livestock price formula from 100 percent to 150 percent. 

Hearings were held throughout the West by the Senate Public Land 
Subcommittee under Senator Alan Bible of Nevada. Karl Landstrom 
overheard a person testify that "nothing delights the heart of a Nevada 
cowpoke more than to smell the hide of a BLM director roasting over a 
sagebrush fire." Despite strong opposition from ranchers, the Secretary 
adopted the 150 percent factor in 1963, which continued until a new grazing 
fee formula was developed in 1 968. During this period grazing fees on BLM 
lands increased from 19 cents to 33 cents per AUM. 

BLM Grazing Fees 


Animal Unit Month Fee 











1961 1962 1963 1964 

Grazing revenues 1961-1970 

1965 1966 

Fiscal Year 





Critics of BLM and Forest Service range programs continued to assert 
that the government was not receiving fair market value for grazing on the 
public lands. In 1966, the BLM and Forest Service contracted with the 
Department of Agriculture's Statistical Reporting Service to collect and 
study data on all aspects of the livestock industry to estimate fair market 
grazing values on public lands. The "Western Livestock Grazing Survey" 
included the mailing of 14,000 questionnaires, plus 10,000 personal 
interviews, to gather its data. 

In 1968 an interagency grazing fee technical committee met to analyze 
the information. The committee needed to determine if there was any 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 

statistical difference between grazing costs on Forest Service and BLM 
lands and if there was any basis for a variable fee. The differences, adjusted 
for seasons of use and other uses made of the lands, proved insignificant. 
The committee set an average fair market value of grazing at $1.23 per 
AUM for both agencies and recommended that this amount be adopted as 
a fee for both cattle and sheep. 

Lawsuits against the proposed increases failed, but Congress decided 
against implementing such large increases in one fell swoop. Because 
grazing fees were then 33 cents per AUM for BLM lands and 72 cents for 
Forest Service lands, Congress authorized the increased fees to be phased 
in over a 10-year period (9 cents a year for BLM and 7.2 cents for the Forest 


BLM continued to look at fire as one of the principal enemies of the 
nation's range, forest, and watershed resources. Under Karl Landstrom, fire 
training for BLM employees increased. BLM recognized that it had 
insufficient ground detection facilities; construction of fire lookouts 
became a priority in some parts of the West. In others, BLM began assigning 
"per diem fire guards" in advance of the fire season. Fire detection flights 
were made after lightning storms or during fire danger periods in many 
BLM districts. 

As for its firefighters, BLM liked small mobile crews. BLM relied more 
and more on helicopters to transport crews and drop borate/water mixtures 
on fires. A Bureauwide firefighting build-up was prompted by the 1961 fire 
season. Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, and Montana all faced serious fires in July 
and August. A shortage of crews caused intense competition for fire 
personnel; the National Guard was called to assist with transportation and 
other nonfire duties. 

In 1964 lightning near Elko, Nevada started several fires: soon 300,000 
acres were aflame. BLM resources were inadequate, so the District 
Manager asked for help through cooperative firefighting agreements with 
the Forest Service and the state. More than 2,500 firefighters, 64 aircraft, 
and 280 vehicles poured in from other states. A temporary coordinating and 
dispatch center, the Western Fire Coordinating Center, was established in 
Salt Lake City on August 18. 

After the 1964 fire season, BLM strengthened its firefighting 
capabilities by establishing the Great Basin Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, on 
April 1, 1965 — a permanent version of the earlier coordination center. 
Roger Robinson, former chief of the Alaska fire organization, was put in 

Robinson wanted to integrate BLM's firefighting efforts on a national 
level by making the Great Basin Fire Center a national communications, 
dispatch, and support center. The center's value to the Bureau was soon 
demonstrated. In 1967 more than 5,000 fires broke out in the Pacific 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Northwest and northern Rockies. BLM coordinated deployments of as 
many as 7,000 firefighters on the line, prompting Secretary Udall to praise 
the advantages of interagency cooperation in controlling forest and range 
fires. The Forest Service joined BLM at the center in 1969 when it moved 
into new facilities and was renamed the Boise Interagency Fire Center. 

3 2 


[g] Alaska 
m Total 


™ **n Ea, 


1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 

Calendar Year 

Public lands burned 1961-1970 

BLM firefighters on break from West Fork fire, Taylor Highway, Alaska 1966 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 


by Jack Wilson 
Director, Boise Interagency Fire Center 

The basic idea for a centralized fire support center came from several sources. Probably the 
first was in a Boise National Forest study by Deputy Regional Forester William D. Hurst in 
early 1961. The Honeywell task force in April 1964 proposed a fire center similar to Alaska's: 
a single fire program and center for the West. What really forced the issue were two events. 
First the Forest Service and BLM in Boise each established retardant plant operations on the 
same airfield; second, large fires were occurring in BLM's Elko (Nevada) District. The need 
for coordination and cooperation became painfully apparent. 

On April 1, 1965, the Great Basin Fire Center was authorized by BLM at Boise, Idaho, and 
Roger R. Robinson, State Director of Alaska was sworn in as its first Director. 

Initially the Boise National Forest attached their Fire Control Officer to the center along with 
their fire warehouse personnel. Subsequently the Fire Weather Forecaster of the National 
Weather Bureau joined the group. These original players drafted the first agreement for 
operating the center in 1969 when the first buildings were dedicated. There was understanda- 
bly a lot of controversy and turf fighting, but in 1972 the first overall agreement was signed, 
assigning responsibility to the fire center. The Boise National Forest moved their 
smokejumpers there, and BLM began building its staff. At this time, the name was changed 
to the Boise Interagency Fire Center (BIFC). 

In 1973, the Forest Service elevated its posture to the national level with the assignment of 
their Assistant Director for Suppression, Bob Bjornsen, to BIFC. Bob Robinson had retired, 
and the new BLM Director, Jack Wilson, was assigned. An era of cooperation was ushered 
in. In 1974 the National Park Service assigned John Bowdler to Boise as a partner at BIFC. 
In late 1975, with the passage of legislation that updated the old Clark-McNary Fire 
protection laws, the mission of the center became nationwide. The so-called State and Private 
Forestry Law authorized states to request fire support from federal sources. 

The Bureau of Indian Affairs was added to the agencies who are BIFC partners in June of 
1977. The Fish and Wildlife Service joined the center in October 1979. 

The Office of Aircraft Services (OAS), an organization of the Department of the Interior, was 
created in 1973, and their first Director, James W. Thurston, wanted to establish his head- 
quarters at Boise because of the closeness of fire/aviation relationships. So, as of 1974, OAS 
has resided at BIFC and shared the costs. The Forest Service moved their aviation 
coordination and support unit to Boise in 1975. 

The first experience with International Fire support came in the summer of 1976 when the 
provinces of Ontario and Quebec had extreme fire seasons. This led to a joint Diplomatic 
Exchange Agreement that authorized mutual fire support, and the agreement has been used 
by both countries many times since it was signed in 1982. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


BLM stepped up its hiring of foresters in the early 1960s to manage 
public domain forests and woodlands outside Oregon and Alaska, including 
5 million acres capable of producing timber in commercial quantities. 
Ponderosa and lodgepole pine forests in Colorado and Wyoming were made 
available to lumber companies when they shut down operations on Forest 
Service lands in the winter. 

BLM's management of the O&C lands was sorely tested in the 1960s. 

O&C Lands: Cataclysmic storms, fires, and floods challenged the Bureau's ability to 

In Search of respond. Allowable cut limits were manipulated to respond to these 

Stability situations and to the region's economic conditions, but were finally 

stabilized in 1970. 

BLM sold over a billion board feet of timber from the O&C lands for 
the first time in 1960, taking in $34 million. Under Secretary Udall, BLM 
began a study of its forest holdings and their management. The review was 
interrupted by a recession that dropped timber prices from $32 to $25 per 
thousand board feet; in 1962 BLM raised the allowable cut for O&C lands 
to 1,127 million board feet. 

But then came the Columbus Day storm: in one day 5 billion board feet 
of prime timber was blown down in Washington and Oregon; 1.5 billion 
board feet of timber on the O&C lands was killed or damaged. Congress 
authorized emergency road construction while BLM and the Forest Service 
developed a plan to salvage the timber by May 1964. BLM conferred with 
federal, state, and local governments and timber companies to adjust the 
terms and tenures of previously issued contracts to facilitate the process. 

This massive, historic effort was completed on schedule, but in 
December 1964, BLM had to deal with floods that damaged access to $20 
million of O&C timber. Congress responded with $14.8 million for 
emergency road repairs. 

In August 1966, BLM had to cope with the Oxbow fire in the Coos Bay 
District. The fire burned over 43,000 acres of Douglas fir forest and cost 
BLM $900,000 (75,000 work hours) to put out. BLM offered 180 million 
board feet of timber for salvage by July 1967; the increase in sales for the 
Smith River Management Unit amounted to 330 percent, but all timber was 
harvested by the end of 1969. 

Once Secretary Udall approved BLM's increase in allowable cuts, he 
asked Assistant Secretary John Carver to continue BLM's review of O&C 
Sweet Swap policies. While this took place, Congress passed the Point Reyes National 
Seashore Act in 1962, which authorized exchanges of private lands inside 
the park boundary for BLM lands in adjacent states to consolidate National 
Park Service holdings. Alfred Sweet owned land inside Point Reyes and 
was willing to trade it for 2,360 acres of BLM forest lands in Curry County, 
Oregon. A similar swap in California fell through in 1961, because of 
disagreements among BLM and Park Service land appraisers on the values 
of lands to be exchanged. 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 

In 1964 Charles Stoddard asked Oregon State Director Russ Getty to 
compile a list of non-O&C public domain lands in western Oregon (totaling 
240,000 acres in small tracts) that could be used for exchange. Getty 
responded by listing almost all public domain lands in western Oregon for 
retention because, starting in 1961, they were included in BLM's 
calculations of allowable cut. BLM's Washington Office then identified 
several tracts for potential exchange with Mr. Sweet. 

When word of this proposal became known, a nationwide controversy 
erupted which forced its cancellation. Legislators, the timber industry, and 
the Sierra Club objected to the "Sweet Swap" as a raid on O&C lands, while 
other groups supported the exchange as a good example of blocking up 
federal holdings. The upshot of this episode, however, is that both Stoddard 
and Getty lost their jobs (they declined to accept new positions), and 
Secretary Udall suspended all other Park Service-BLM exchanges. 

Despite this incident, BLM continued its review of O&C forest 
management and concluded that its productivity must be balanced with 
environmental quality. Of BLM's total O&C holdings, 108,000 acres were 
found to have unstable soils and another 100,000 acres comprised valuable 
watersheds with soils that could be damaged by timber harvesting. BLM 
therefore proposed to separate these lands, plus 72 recreation sites and 172 
potential sites from the O&C allowable cut base, along with 50,000 acres 
comprising valuable natural areas or wildlife habitats. 

BLM also wanted to modify harvest techniques on 150,000 acres, 
create 380 miles of roadside corridors, and protect 3,000 acres in scenic 
areas. Under Boyd L. Rasmussen, BLM proposed new timber management 
techniques that included genetic improvement and reforestation for 
problem areas. BLM implemented this plan in 1970, after President Nixon 
directed both Interior and Agriculture to incorporate productivity and 
environmental quality in new timber plans. The new O&C management 
plan reduced allowable cuts from 1,323 to 1,172 million board feet and 
stabilized them at that level. Oregon State Director Archie Craft and his 
Chief of Resources, Murl Storms, met with the public and industry groups 
to explain the program and assure them of the its long-term benefits. 


60 - 

50 - 

10 - 

1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 

Fiscal Year 

Timber revenues 1961-1970 





Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


The treatment of wild horses and burros on the public lands emerged as 
a major national issue in the 1960s. By the end of the decade, BLM received 
more mail about horses than all other topics combined. Accurate or not, wild 


by Larry L. Woodard 
New Mexico State Director 

Coastal winds in the timber-growing country of western Oregon are regular occurrences. 
O&C foresters tend to ignore such happenings until limbs start falling (time to pack up and 
leave) or when your tin hat blows off (run like hell!). However, winds of typhoon or cyclone 
level are very rare and until October 12, 1962, the patchwork clearcuts of the Oregon coastal 
areas and Cascades had not experienced such winds for over 100 years. Instead of the winds 
blowing fiercely over the tops of unbroken verdant forests, the clearcutting of western 
Oregon offered a thousand unprotected flanks of shallow-rooted conifers to the "Big Blow" 
of 1962. 

Meteorologists later described the sudden low pressure trough which moved ashore on 
Columbus Day as one of the most dramatic barometric changes in Oregon history. In our 
Harvard Avenue office in Roseburg, most of my staff was in the field when the winds began 
to pick up. By midafternoon the wind was pounding the old storefront windows and after a 
few false starts, the lights went out for good. Debris was blowing down the street and power 
lines began to break as limbs and trees started falling. 

The office closed early. I drove through the Veterans Hospital grounds, around fallen trees, 
and found my family gazing out the front room window watching the neighbor's carport 
cartwheel down the street. Composition shingles were flying around the neighborhood and 
it was not until the next morning that I was able to account for all my employees. One of my 
foresters, John Rice, reported later that they had left surveying equipment in the field when 
the wind hit and had barely made it out to the highway. A flight the next day showed over 100 
trees across their escape route. By early evening the storm had passed and the neighborhood 
gathered in the streets to look at the damage. 

The entire District assembled the next morning because Rod Fety, Timber Management 
Branch Chief in the Oregon State Office, and his staff were already asking for early damage 
estimates. Foresters fanned out over the District with maps to plot the blowdown areas. By 
the end of the first day, my staff reported that the blowdown was so extensive that ground 
surveys were impractical. The next morning Sam Heaney, Drain Area Manager, and I took 
a helicopter flight from Roseburg to Drain and then back to Glide, Oregon. Sam quickly gave 
up trying to map the blowdown on an ungainly map that covered the whole cockpit, so I 
mapped while Sam estimated volumes. As we approached the NE corner of each clearcut, 10- 
40 acres of prime old growth timber could be seen laying on the ground in a jack-straw pattern. 

That afternoon, we reassembled in District Manager Archie Craft's office to report our 
damage estimates. My counterpart was Jim Richardson (South Umpqua Area Manager); I 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 

horses and burros came to be seen as a national legacy, running wild and free 
in the West since the Spanish first visited the area. The fact that most animals 
were released from failed homesteads in the 1920s and 1930s didn't matter. 
BLM employees arguing this point or stressing the need to manage horse 

noticed that when he gave his estimate he had substantially increased his figures. Suspecting 
that he was trying to position himself for expected additional funding, I doubled my estimate. 
Sam glared at me with his one good eye; as it turned out even our inflated estimates were both 
50 percent too low. 

An immediate request for additional funds went forward and the Secretarial Regulations were 
waived to allow for contract extensions, scale sales, and adjustment of existing timber sales. 
Everybody began a 6-day-a-week work schedule and within 8 months much of the timber was 
placed on the market. Every forester became a timber cruiser and truckloads of marking paint 
made the Nelson Paint Company a household word in the Northwest. We let the timber 
industry know we had added tracer elements to the BLM paint to minimize timber theft. 

My recollection of the entire blow down salvage operations was one of tremendous individual 
and agency pride in our accomplishments. New road construction was dramatically acceler- 
ated, and by the end of the effort, access to almost all of the O&C timberlands was complete. 

Estimates of the timber loss in western Oregon were 2.5 billion board feet, of which half was 
on the O&C lands. By the end of FY 1963, the O&C staff had offered 926 million board feet 
of the estimated 1 .25 billion board feet of wind blown salvage. Typical of the western Oregon 
situation in 1963, the Roseburg allowable cut was 187 MMBF, but we had offered 256 
MMBF. A remarkable accomplishment! 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by Edwin Zaidlicz 
Former Montana State Director 

Editor's Note: BLM's resource programs were male-dominated domains until the 1960s. In 
only two decades, however, women became an integral part of the Bureau's resource 
management programs. Women professionals are now found in all programs and a number 
have moved into decision making positions. In hiring women professionals, the forestry 
program led the way. The first women forester in BLM was Elaine (Mosher) Pearsons. In 
the two accompanying stories we have the reaction of a long-time BLM forester to the hiring 
of Elaine Pearson and then her own reminscence of being a trail "blazer." 

Forestry in BLM was considered a domain peopled 
by virile, macho-type males not gifted with attrib- 
utes of gentility, subUety or other finer sensibilities. 
The few women in our ranks were saints — highly 
competent, intensely dedicated and courageously 
loyal to the cause of the "strange breed of cats." But 
none were foresters! 

In 1961 several of our top headquarters' foresters 
were sent to our leading forestry schools to recruit. 
We only had a few vacancies and great concern was 
shared by all — to snare the best young grads. 

Fran Jacquemin returned to report glowingly of the 
"prize" he had committed from Michigan. While he 
ticked off this young forester's abilities, I shared his 
self-serving delight until he used the singular pro- 
noun "she." I must admit to a feeling of shock, 
consternation, and disbelief. Our proud male do- 
main was breached, we had our first "lady forester." 

Elaine (Mosher) Pearsons 

My worst fears were confirmed when Elaine Mosher nervously reported to my office for 
work. I had secretly hoped mat she would be about 6 feet tall, gap-toothed, with a broken nose 
and wearing well worn "corks" [cleated boots]. Instead, I faced a petite, pretty, soft-spoken 
little lady. She was unlike any forester I had ever met. Over time, my parochial mindset like 
so many of my other firm convictions suffered a reversal. Elaine turned out to be a jewel and 
a great credit to her profession and organization. What she lacked in size and conventional 
stereotyping, she more than made up for with tenacity, awesome drive, courage and infec- 
tious adaptability. 

Years after, Elaine was subjected to the acid test for any forester by being assigned to timber 
sale contract administration in the Salem O&C District Office. I can only imagine the scene 
as a group of hard-bitten loggers gathered around the warm-up fire for lunch when the 
government jeep pulled up and tiny Elaine stepped out to confront them. From all reports she 
more than met the test. I was convinced — ladies can't chew tobacco but they can wear 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 


by Elaine (Mosher) Pearsons 
BLM Forester — Retired 

My BLM career began in 1961 when I was recruited from Michigan Technological 
University to work in Washington, DC With no other professional-level job offers, I was 
grateful the BLM was willing to take a chance on me although a bit disappointed it wasn't 
a field job. In retrospect, my 2 years there training under Eugene Zumwalt, Ed "Moose" 
Zaidlicz and many other top foresters, better prepared me for my following field job. In DC, 
we were faced with organizing the harvest of the 1962 blowdown timber on the O&C lands. 

Otto Krueger, District Manager at Salem, accepted me as the first woman field forester. I 
worked under Dick Renfeldt, Resource Manager for the East Side of the District. Dick's fine 
sense of humor took this new situation in stride and he made me feel a welcome part of the 
team as did most of the other foresters in the district. He placed me with Bill Taylor who was 
heading the reforestation program. 

My first job with Bill was helicopter seeding. I was to take an outdated map and an old 
International Carryall heavily loaded with seed to meet Bill and the helicopter at loading 
points. I had never driven a truck before, let alone a badly swaying one, nor had I been around 
on any mountain logging roads. Somehow, in spite of the fear I'd mess up, the seed got 
delivered and I even had a turn seeding in the helicopter. 

Messing up was always a concern as I felt I had to do everything right being the first woman 
field forester. My first day in the field with Dick, I ran a tree branch into my ear. Following 
that incident, though, I had a good safety record throughout my employment working in the 
field alone and traveling some scary logging roads to old plantings and seedings. 

One time I was delayed by the State Police near Molalla. Wearing a stocking cap and work 
clothes, the trooper thought a 5' 2" teenage boy was stealing a government truck. 

For about 2 years I continued doing reforestation survival surveys and when the new push for 
BLM recreation sites arose, I began evaluating sites for possible development. 

During the next 2 years, I was transferred to the West Side, of the District under Guy 
Higginson and Paul Kuhns doing much of the same type of work and was promoted to a GS- 
9 as I took on more responsibilities. Because of my knack for writing, I got in on some analysis 
studies and reports. Now I was working in the Coast Range in some of the best O&C 

By 1968, an obsession for training horses overwhelmed good sense and ended my forestry 
career prematurely. Since then I've married twice, once raising four stepchildren with a BLM 
timber cruiser, Dallas Chalfant (deceased), and now freelance writing, land surveying and 
owning a pack outfit with my husband, Don, for the past 1 1 years. We live in North-Central 
Idaho where we enjoy wilderness hunting and fishing. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

and burro populations against the needs of wildlife and cattle on the range 
were seen as proof of BLM's bias in favor of livestock grazing. 

Under the law, wild horses and burros were viewed as feral animals, not 
qualifying for protection under any wildlife legislation. BLM routinely 
issued permits in the 1950s and 1960s to companies gathering horses and 
burros off the public lands. More than 100,000 wild horses had been 
captured in Nevada alone during the 1950s, with most destined for 
rendering plants. In 1964 more than 1,200 animals gathered in a single 
roundup in Montana were sold as bucking horses. 

In the late 1950s, BLM estimated that there were around 20,000 wild 
horses remaining in nine western states. By the late '60s this estimate 
dropped to 17,000. Much of the public became concerned that horse and 
burro numbers were dwindling and suggested the government set up 
refuges for them. 

In 1962, the Nevada Wild Horse Range was created within the 394,000- 
acre Nellis Air Force Base. BLM built watering holes throughout the area, 
and, because livestock were not permitted on the base, wild horse numbers 
grew from about 200 in 1962 to more than 1,000 by 1976. Once protected, 
horses proved they could multiply rapidly. 

The story of wild horse protection in America goes back to 1950, to a 
woman named Velma Johnston. Johnston made the 20-mile trip from her 
ranch outside Reno to her office for years, but one day found herself behind 
a cattle truck loaded with horses. Noticing blood dripping out of the back, 
she decided to follow the truck. What she found was a load of wild horses 
being delivered to a rendering plant. Most were injured, some badly, from 

| Major Wild Horse Areas 
Major Wild Burros Areas 

Wild horse and burro areas on the Public lands 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 

the capture. On that day she resolved to publicize the plight of wild horses 
and prevent the kind of treatment she saw. 

In 1952, Johnston and her supporters convinced Storey County, 
Nevada, to ban the use of aircraft in gathering horses. When Congress 
passed the Wild Horse Protection Act of 1959, much of the credit belonged 
to Johnston, who proudly took the name "Wild Horse Annie" from her 
detractors. In 1965, she founded the International Society for the Protection 
of Mustangs and Burros, and soon after, the Wild Horse Organizational 
Assistance (WHOA). These groups and others then began a concerted effort 
to convince Congress to establish a national policy for protection of wild 
horses and burros, which came to fruition in 1971. 

In 1968 BLM established the Pryor Mountains Wild Horse Range on 
32,000 acres of land on the Montana- Wyoming border. The area was 
created after a local dispute erupted into a national controversy covered by 
the national news media. 

Range conditions in the Pryor Mountains had deteriorated to the point 
where most lands were in poor condition and continuing to decline. At the 
same time, horse numbers had risen to about 125. The Montana Game and 
Fish Department asked BLM to remove most of the horses because they 
were using browse needed by deer. Several ranchers voiced concern about 
declining livestock forage. BLM worked out plans to remove all but 20 
horses from the area. 

Ranchers Lloyd and Royce Tillet, however, wanted to preserve the 
herd. So did the Lovell, Wyoming Chamber of Commerce. Wild horses had 
lived on the Tillets' lands since their parents settled there in 1894. A 
nationwide letter-writing campaign in 1966-67 convinced BLM to hold off 
on removing any horses pending further study of the situation. Director 
Rasmussen appointed a national wild horse advisory committee, which 
included Wild Horse Annie and the mayor of Lovell among its members. 

Fearing a roundup was still imminent, the Humane Society of the 


i M4 W W— ^g^"~"~ 

Wild horse roundup, Wyoming 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by Boyd L. Rasmussen 

Editor's Note: Boyd L. Rasmussen spent 31 years with the 
Forest Service before becoming Director of BLM. After 
receiving a degree in forestry from Oregon State University, 
Rasmussen served as a district ranger, forest supervisor and 
Regional Forester in the Northwest. In Washington, he 
worked in the Division of Fire Control and became deputy 
chief of the Forest Service in 1964. 

On a busy Washington day in 1966 my secretary came 
rushing into my Forest Service Office saying, "There' s a guy 
on the phone who says he is the Secretary of Interior Stewart 
Udall and he wants to talk to you." It was Secretary Udall and 
he wanted to know if I was interested in becoming the 
Director of BLM. Thus my BLM career began. 

BoydL. Rasmussen 

Without a BLM background it was necessary for me to quickly understand its missions, 
objectives, legal responsibilities, and organization. Understanding relationships with the 
Secretary's staff and congressional committees was a must. At the same time it was 
imperative that my leadership be established to secure the support of the BLM staff as well 
as the Secretary's staff. 

Foremost there was a need to secure recognition of BLM as a professional organization both 
within and outside the Bureau. It was mandatory to spearhead a PR program to secure 
favorable recognition of BLM's many outstanding accomplishments. Most of my efforts 
were directed with these in mind. It wasn't easy but BLM was ready. 

My first project was to bring stability, poise, peace and quiet to a Bureau which had more than 
its share of unfavorable publicity, poor judgment, secret feuds, antagonism between the 
Washington and field offices, and a buddy system. I started by getting acquainted with the 
Washington and field staff and determining their capabilities. After all, they had a new 
Director they had never seen before, who had never worked for BLM, and came from a rival 
agency. I found the staff to be capable, professional, and eager to move. Now for some of the 
Bureau's accomplishments. Grazing fees had long been a problem forthe BLM both with the 
permittees and the Congress. The recently completed Grazing Fee study by FS and BLM 
indicated that an increase was justified. The study did not recognize permit value as a part of 
the range fee calculation and gave an opportunity to effectively oppose any recognition of 
permit value. 

Permit value was a rallying point for the permittees to fight the fee increase. Political support 
was on both sides. After much discussion a compromise was adopted. Grazing fees would 
be increased by increments over a 10-year period. To keep the study fee current, an inflation 
index factor was to be calculated annually. Thus the grazing fee would be in two parts— the 
annual increment and the inflation factor. The Secretary signed off at this point and BLM no 
longer had an annual grazing fee fight. 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 

Sustained yield figures for the 0&.C and Coos Bay Wagon Grant lands had been controver- 
sial. Increased timber harvests were under suspicion from environmental interests. Overcut- 
ting charges were made. New studies indicated that under non-declining even flow the 
sustained yield figures should be reduced. Industry opposed any reduction in cut. Through 
a successful information program , BLM was able to secure support for a reduction. However, 
the Governor of Oregon entered into the discussions. Again it was necessary to reach an 
agreement both sides could live with. The final result was to reduce the allowable cut over 
a 4-year period. It was further agreed that the annual cut would include salvage material. This 
agreement stood and one more controversy was behind us. 

The Classification and Multiple Use Act directed BLM to classify public lands for retention 
and management or for disposal. It presented an opportunity to look at all the public domain 
land in a different light — multiple use and ultimate retention and management. The decision 
was made to classify large areas on a broad basis. It gave us an orderly process of presenting 
our findings to the public and local officials for their approval. Consulting with local officials 
took away much of the political heat. In fact some counties conducted the hearings for BLM. 
Hearings allowed the public to be heard — and public approval went a long way. BLM 
classification work had a profound effect on the PLLRC recommendations. 

State in lieu land grants had long been a headache and, while a part of normal activities, were 
subject to available appropriations. Our biggest problems were in Arizona where the state 
land department demanded immediate action on transfer of 600,000 acres of public domain 
for land inside national forest boundaries. Congress agreed to finance a program to transfer 
200,000 acres a year. 

The Boise Interagency Fire Center was made operational through continuous annual 
appropriation requests by BLM. Although the Forest Service shared in the center's operation, 
all development appropriations were secured through the BLM budget. 

Thousands of unresolved land entry cases were on the books. Progress in resolving them was 
at a standstill. New cases came faster than decisions were made on old cases. We took our 
problem to the Congress and were able to start an orderly process to reduce the backlog. 

We also launched a very successful PR program to gain public support and understanding of 
BLM multiple use programs stressing wildlife and recreation. Johnny Horizon was a first- 
rate PR effort to create a better awareness of the values of the public lands and the role of 

When I left BLM it was a stable, professional outfit working together on common goals 
accepted by the field and Washington office. It was perceived by other professional groups 
as an equal. It had experienced many successes and was ready for more. Its fiscal programs 
were in order and its budget progress focused on performance. Problems were faced squarely 
and resolved in an expeditious manner. Personnel changes were based on merit. 

BLM had public and Congressional approval. It was a responsible, dedicated public bureau 
staffed by many capable men and women who were proud of their work. I too was proud 
of being a part of a great bureau. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

United States sued BLM to prevent it. Although a preliminary injunction 
against a roundup was denied, the case could have been reopened whenever 
BLM announced plans to gather horses from the area. 

Thousands of letters deluged the Department, from elementary school 
students and their parents to concerned citizens all over the country, asking 
that BLM create a refuge for the horses. Director Rasmussen personally 
visited the Pryor Mountains in 1968 and concluded that the area should be 
established as the Bureau's first wild horse range. On September 12, 
Secretary Udall signed a Public Land Order establishing the refuge; BLM 
dropped its plans to remove horses from the area, but set a limit of 125 to 
145 horses for the range to protect its forage. 


Inventories of wildlife habitat on the public lands began in earnest after 
the CMU Act was passed. Public lands were found to provide important 
habitats for wildlife, including an estimated 3 million big game animals. 
Half the salmon and steelhead trout harvested along the Pacific Coast 
spawned on public lands. Eighty-five percent of the desert bighorn sheep's 
habitat existed on BLM lands. 

In 1961, Secretary Udall designated 60,000 acres of BLM lands in 
California as the Caliente National Land and Wildlife Management Area to 
develop wildlife and recreation potentials under the authority of the Public 
Land Administration Act of 1960. By 1963, 14 areas in California totalling 
810,000 acres were being managed on a cooperative basis with the state. 

Also in 1961, BLM hired its first wildlife biologist. In addition, the 
Bureau signed a cooperative agreement for wildlife habitat management 
with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, and proceeded to reintroduce 
wild turkey and antelope on public lands in the Arizona Strip District. 

After passage of the CMU Act, Bob Smith, former Chief of the Arizona 
Game and Fish Department, was brought into the Washington Office to 
head up BLM's newly created Wildlife Division. BLM hired biologists in 
District Offices starting in 1965 and began to enter into wildlife research 
projects with other agencies. BLM's first fisheries biologists were hired in 
Oregon and California (in both State and District Offices) in 1968 to work 
on valuable anadromous fishery streams along the Pacific Coast. 


While much of Congress' legislative efforts in the 1960s focused on 
recreation issues and preserving special areas (e.g., parks and wilderness 
areas), it also passed three acts dealing with water in 1965. The Water 
Resources Research Act allowed BLM to increase its watershed research 
activities, while the Water Resources Planning Act authorized BLM to 
enter into comprehensive water resource planning with other federal and 
state agencies. Under the Water Quality Act, BLM assisted western states 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 

in setting clean water standards. 

A frail-lands study begun in 1965 identified 6.5 million acres of lands 
in the critical stages of erosion and over 38 million acres as being highly 
vulnerable. BLM took part in the Department of Agriculture's National 
Inventory of Soil and Watershed Conservation Needs and increased its 
cooperation with the Soil Conservation Service (SCS); 168 agreements 
were signed with SCS districts under Director Stoddard. 


BLM provided assistance to 70 other nations during the '60s. In 1964 
it entered into Participating Agency Service Agreements with the Agency 
for International Development, where BLM recruited employees for 
overseas assignments. 

BLM's biggest effort occurred in northern Nigeria, where employees 
set up five range demonstration projects. Year-round water sources were 
developed and the range was managed for multiple use to improve forage 
and allow the nomadic Fulani Tribe to settle on the land. BLM also worked 
with Brazil, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia to design land survey systems and train 
them in record keeping. 


Involving the public in BLM's classification 
process did more than just increase people's 
understanding of the public lands. America's rising 
interest in public lands translated into volunteers for 
a variety of projects. Foremost were litter 
campaigns — Boy Scout troops and citizens groups 
cleaned up recreation sites and trails — while 
spelunkers helped outdoor recreation planners locate 
and protect cave resources. Ranchers continued to 
build range improvements and wildlife groups built 
watering holes for game animals. 

Johnny Horizon was created as part of a BLM 
nationwide antilitter campaign in 1968, but came to 
symbolize a new public land ethic in the West — one 
of people caring enough for their lands to take care of 
them. Actor/singer Burl Ives hosted a series of 
nationwide public service announcements to spread 
the word and did several Earth Day/Johnny Horizon 
concerts. The Department soon latched on to the 
campaign but disagreed as to how it should be funded; 
this and the program's wider coverage caused it to 
lose focus, resulting in its cancellation only 4 years 
after its inception. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by Jack Mcintosh 
Former Butte District Manager 

My Nigeria, Africa assignment was unquestionably the highlight of my career, for which I 
returned a better employee than when I left. The experience also had a positive impact on my 
family. I can recall many small day-to-day actions in the workplace and in the home setting 
where we really had a positive impact on the Nigerians. I will also state up front the program 
was successful and a credit to BLM. For our work, the team received a Departmental Unit 
Award which I display with pride. In spite of this, I take greater pride in my family's 
performance, which served to improve Nigerian lifestyles. 

During the 1960s, the Nigerian government was structured as it was when the British granted 
independence from colonial rule. The national government was structured after the English. 
Under this provincial form of government, the native government remained intact and 
divided into Emirates as it had been for many years. The tax to support the Native 
Government was not based on land but on livestock as it had been in pre-colonial days. 

Hfstorically , the Fulani tribesmen, the cowboys of Nigeria, were nomadic, moving their herds 
north and south with seasonal rains, roaming from one Emirate to another as they saw fit. 
Consequently, it was difficult, often impossible to inventory the herds and harder yet to 
collect taxes. As a result, the Native Government had a huge interest in "settling the Fulani." 
They had no dynamic force like the IRS to collect taxes. 

Since water and forage were key to the nomadic behavior of the Fulani, it seemed simple to 
apply American techniques of range management by developing water and grazing systems. 
The Fulani would then be tempted to stay in one place, making it easier for the Nigerian "IRS" 
to find and tax them. 

So our team's objectives were two-fold: improve the range and settle the Fulani. The 
government's objective was simple: collect taxes. 

Without going into great detail, our team applied systems, methods , and studies that had been 
successful on American ranges. We did these things with state-of-the-art techniques and in 
the end were only moderately successful. However, our plan to formally educate selected 
Nigerians in the U.S. proved of long-term benefit and was very successful. 

Based on my experiences, I believe we should continue and expand the formal education 
programs for key Nigerians in the U.S. This interchange of ideas and exposure to different 
cultures was highly beneficial. Furthermore, I believe that Marshall Plan techniques cannot 
be duplicated in Third World nations and should not be tried. There simply is no quick cure 
for elevating these nations into American standards socially, politically, and educationally. 
Our effort to do so was like turning kids loose in a candy store. In our case, we gave the 
Nigerians techniques and equipment they were not capable of managing or implementing. 

We can all criticize the mistakes Americans sometimes make when in foreign countries. 
Perhaps some things have changed, yet today I see the same flaws in policy that have 
contributed to the U.S. falling from grace in the international community. We have seen 
embassies overrun, American officials kidnapped and misuse of foreign aid. All are 
commonplace. Maybe we all need to try a little harder? 


A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 


By the end of the 1960s, public land management was becoming a hotly 
debated topic. The public became a permanent player in the game and 
demonstrated that it was no longer willing to entrust the job entirely to land 
managers, to House committees, or to anyone else to the exclusion of others. 
The 1960s became "years of profound questioning and resisting of the 
established order," according to Dr. Sally Fairfax. "Techniques of political 
activism developed in the civil rights movement and refined in the antiwar 
movement were employed in the environmental cause." 

While most conservation and user groups focused their efforts on 
obtaining legislation to meet their goals, others began to look at litigation. 
Here, too, the times were changing — environmental groups gained the right 
to sue the government. In 1965, an organization's "standing to sue" (the 
right to be heard in court) was granted by the U.S. Supreme Court to a group 
suing the Federal Power Commission. In this and other cases, the court 
broadened its interpretation of standing to sue from individuals suffering 
economic or physical harm to groups threatened with loss of a resource their 
members used. The court also found government actions to be within its 
scope of review, no longer refusing to hear cases by deferring to agency 

According to Dr. Fairfax, America's conservation movement had been 
defined and led by government idealists since the early 1900s. In the 1960s, 
however, "the agencies were not leading the movement; and toward the end 
of the decade, they were being attacked by it." 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Bureau of Land Management 


F ttim! ovppc — -*^*-^- 

4,000 - 

3,500 " 

3,000 - 

t 2- 500 " 

1 2,000 - 


1,500 - 

1.000 - 


1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 

1967 1968 1969 1970 

Fiscal Year 

Budget 12 °: 


90 - 

I 75 : 

1 6 ° ■ 

w 45 - 


M 30 - 

is - 

1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 

1967 1968 1969 1970 

Fiscal Year 

Revenues 1 - 200 ; 

1 ,050 - 


§ 750- 

I 600- 


3 450- 


i 3O0 - 

1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 

1967 1968 1969 1970 

Fiscal Year 

Directors Karl Landstrom 


Charles Stoddard 


Boyd Rasmussen 


Major Classification and Multiple Use Act 


Legislation Public Land Law Review Commission Act 


National Environmental Policy Act 



A Multiple Use Mandate: The 1960s 


As in the 1950s, historians have given little attention to the Bureau of 
Land Management. The material that is available is the work of political 
scientists, economists, and natural resource management specialists. 

Samuel T. Dana and Sally K. Fairfax provide an overview of federal 
land policy in the 1 960s in Forest and Range Policy: Its Development in the 
United States, Second Edition (1980), that includes some discussion of 
BLM. Marion Clawson has some brief, but good, discussion on BLM 
during these years in his The Federal Lands Revisited (1983). The internal 
workings of BLM are addressed by Marion Clawson in The Bureau of Land 
Management (1971) and David Paulsen's "An Approach to Organization 
Analysis: A Case Study of the Bureau of Land Management," Ph.D. 
dissertation, University of Washington, 1966. 

Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall's Third Conservation Wave is 
discussed by Barbara Leunes in her "The Conservation Philosophy of 
Stewart L. Udall, 1961-1968," Ph.D. dissertation, Texas A&M University, 
1977. Also see Stewart Udall's The Quiet Crisis (1963). 

A good compilation of articles on various aspects of public land 
management is found in Public Land Policy: Proceedings of the Western 
Resources Conference, Fort Collins, Colorado (1968). Range policy for the 
period is lightly touched upon by William Voigt, Jr., Public Grazing Lands: 
Use and Misuse by Industry and Government (1976). On the wild horse and 
burro debate in the 1960s, see Heather Smith Thomas' The Wild Horse 
Controversy (1979) and Wild Horses and Sacred Cows (1985) by Richard 

The O&C lands are discussed in Elmo Richardson's BLM' s Billion- 
Dollar Checkerboard: Managing the O&C Lands (1980) and The O&C 
Lands (1981) by the University of Oregon's Bureau of Governmental 
Research and Service. The Bureau's firefighting program is discussed by 
Stephen J. Pyne in Fire in America: A Cultural History ofWildland and 
Rural Fire (1982). 

Mineral policy and development is discussed in Robert Swenson's 
"Legal Aspects of Mineral Resources Exploitation," in Paul Wallace Gates' 
History of Public Land Law Development (1968), and by Carl Mayer and 
George Riley in Public Domain — Private Dominion: A History of Public 
Mineral Policy in America (1985). Oil shale is handled by Chris Welles in 
The Elusive Bonanza: The Story of Oil Shale, America' s Richest and Most 
Neglected Natural Resource (1970). Robert Nelson's The Making of 
Federal Coal Policy (1983) is a very good study of the Interior 
Department's management of this mineral resource. 

The State of Alaska's land program is expertly detailed by Gary Stein 
in "Promised Land": A History of Alaska's Selection of Its Congressional 
Land Grants (1987) and state conservation initiatives in Alaska: A 
Challenge in Conservation (1967) by Richard Cooley. The Alaska Native 
lands dispute is discussed by David S. Case, Alaska Natives and American 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Laws (1984); Mary Clay Berry, The Alaska Pipeline: The Politics of Oil 
and Native Land Claims (1975); and Robert Arnold, et al., Alaska Native 
Land Claims (1978). 

On the Public Land Law Review Commission and its 
recommendations, see the Commission's report One-Third of the Nation's 
Lands (1970) and the Natural Resources Council of America's What's 
Ahead for Our Public Lands? A Summary Review of the Activities and Final 
Report of the Public Land Law Review Commission (1970). 




The 1970s 

<~ *_. 

^ ) 

In light of its multiple responsibilities and the complexities of its programs, the Bureau 
has long needed a Congressional statement of policy and a modern legislative mandate. 

— Eleanor Schwartz 

Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

The 1970s 


Thirty years after its formation, the Bureau of Land Management was 
finally granted a mission. The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 
1976 (FLPMA) formally recognized what BLM had been doing on an 
interim basis for many years: managing the public lands under the 
principles of multiple use and sustained yield. FLPMA did much more, 
though — it granted BLM new authorities and responsibilities, amended or 
repealed previous legislation, prescribed specific management techniques, 
and established BLM's California Desert Conservation Area. The Bureau 
was now in the big leagues. 

The road to FLPMA proved to be dramatic. Public land issues were 
discussed in three Congresses, with both old and new constituents involved 
in the debate. The bill was approved at virtually the last minute in a closed- 
door session of a House-Senate conference committee. It is a complex bill 
that reflects the nation's priorities in the 1970s. Public participation and 
planning were the tools provided to make management decisions. 

The first day of 1970, however, opened with President Nixon signing 
the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA recognized that 
federal actions had impacts on the environment and required that they be 
analyzed before management decisions were made. The act established 
protection of the environment as a national goal and encouraged federal 
agencies to set up environmental education programs. 

BLM and other federal land managers at first thought NEPA was 
nothing new — after all, resource specialists considered impacts of their 
work as a part of their jobs. But they were wrong. NEPA brought profound 
changes to BLM. Its provision for environmental impact statements 
changed the way the Bureau did business. 

In addition to NEPA, Congress addressed specific environmental 
concerns. Legislation was passed to protect air quality and endangered 
species, and was amended to strengthen protection of cultural resources and 
water quality. The Wild and Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 
radically realigned BLM's management of these animals, requiring 
protection and enforcement programs. 

Increased public involvement showed BLM that land management was 
becoming every bit as much a social and political activity as a scientific 
endeavor. Advisory boards were increasingly used at national, state, and 
local levels. Public meetings and hearings became everyday components of 
field operations. 

Congress was asked to settle disputes among land users by specifying 
land uses but, more often than not, left the decisions to land managing 
agencies (or the courts). Environmental litigation seemed to become a way 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 

of life for BLM in the 1970s, as various interest groups filed suit under the 
new acts. 

Under Presidents Nixon and Carter, Congress was also asked to 
reorganize the Interior Department — creating a Department of the 
Environment and Natural Resources. In each proposal, the Forest Service 
and other Agriculture Department agencies (e.g., the Soil Conservation 
Service) would have been moved into the new Department; under Carter's 
proposal BLM would have been remade in the Forest Service's image. 
Neither effort was successful, but President Nixon was successful in getting 
his fallback position accepted — the Environmental Protection Agency was 
created in 1972. 

The number and type of employees in BLM increased as the Bureau's 
environmental responsibilities increased. BLM's cultural resources staff 
grew from one specialist at the Denver Service Center in 1970 to more than 
120 (one in almost every field office) only 5 years later. Total employees in 
the Bureau rose from 4,300 in 1970 to 9,600 in 1980, while its budget 
increased from $118 million to $588 million. 

In 1973, the nation was jolted by a major energy crisis. While waiting 
in mile-long gas lines, millions of Americans began to consider the nation's 
long-term energy needs. Although the environmental movement never 
diminished in the public's consciousness, its prominence soon gave way to 
concern over America's energy future. 

Despite passage of the Public Rangelands Improvement Act in 1978, 
many of the Bureau's traditional constituents felt BLM had bypassed them 
in a rush to embrace new public land users. The Sagebrush Rebellion grew 
out of opposition to the federal government's enlarged role in public land 
management. In 1979, the Nevada legislature passed a resolution calling for 
state ownership of BLM public lands. Four other western states soon passed 
similar legislation, but the movement quickly dissipated with the election 
of Ronald Reagan to the presidency in 1980. 

The 1970s were every bit as tumultuous — and exciting — as the 
previous decade. Three new Directors served BLM after Boyd Rasmussen: 
Burt Silcock (1971-73), Curt Berklund (1973-77), and Frank Gregg (1978- New 

81). Silcock, a career Bureau employee and Alaska State Director from Leadership 
1 965 to 1 97 1 , was called upon by Secretary Walter Hickel to handle critical 
Alaska issues in the early 1970s and to continue Rasmussen's work in 
obtaining an "organic act" for the Bureau. 

Final passage of FLPMA was attained under Berklund, who presided 
over a significant growth in BLM's management responsibilities. BLM 
implemented a cultural resources program, developed wilderness review 
procedures, and established new minerals policies — all priority items 
during Berklund's tenure — reflecting BLM's growth into a true multiple 
use agency. 

Frank Gregg began the Bureau's implementation of FLPMA, finalized 
new mineral leasing policies, and oversaw the Bureau's efforts in securing 
passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Burt Silcock 


by Burt Silcock 

Editor's Note: Burt Silcock rose through the ranks in BLM 
as a range conservationist in Billings, Montana in 1948, to 
Alaska State Director in 1965, and Director in 1971. In 
1973 he was appointed Federal Co-Chairman of the Joint 
Federal-State Land Use Planning Commission for Alaska. 

As I reflect back on my career, I don't believe there has ever 
been such a "window of opportunity" as existed during the 
50s-60s and early 70s. The atmosphere was ripe for growth, 
bom for the Bureau and its employees. Finally, America was 
beginning to recognize and acknowledge the value of our 
public lands. I am extremely proud to have been involved in 
this period of history, and cherish all the acquaintances of 
the dedicated men and women I worked with who laid the 
groundwork for today's true multiple use management. 

Little did I realize, when I started with the Bureau in 1948, where my career would lead me. 
I felt I had a solid grasp of resource problems, and the BLM employees were a real asset. 
However, with all the experience I brought with me, we still had a tremendous challenge of 
continuing the course of good public land management. 

When I became Director, the search for a national land use policy concerning public lands 
was in full swing. The Public Land Law Review Commission had completed its study and 
the Classification and Multiple Use Act and the Public Sale Act had expired. The President 
had submitted a reorganization plan to Congress to establish a Department of Natural 
Resources and an Organic Act for the Bureau. The BLM had developed a long-range land 
use planning system for multiple use management of the public lands. 

The challenges that we faced while I was Director were signs of a changing nation. America's 
demand for use and enjoyment of public land for recreation had reached an all-time high. Off- 
road vehicles (ORVs) made it possible for users to reach heretofore inaccessible areas. 
Cultural, archaeological and physical features of the landscape were being destroyed by 
uncontrolled use. Facilities to provide the basic need of sanitation were rarely available and 
our enforcement capabilities for desert areas did not exist. We developed regulations for the 
management and control of ORV use in accordance with the Presidential Executive Order of 
1972. This finally gave BLM the tools to control and direct this growing program. 

The need for clean sources of energy to meet the nation's demands for growth and 
development focused on coal, oil shale, and geothermal steam. This had a major impact on 
the Bureau's energy and minerals programs and really tested our young planning system. 

The Native Claims Settlement Act for Alaska, passed by Congress in 1 97 1 , required the most 
massive redistribution of land ownership in the history of the nation. The Act provided for 
a transfer of approximately 44 million acres of land to private ownership and the withdrawal 
of 80 million acres of federal land for parks, refuges and national forests. The values of these 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 

lands were previously recognized by the Bureau of Land Management's classification 
process in the late 1960s, when I was the State Director in Alaska. 

The uncontrolled use of the public lands by wild horses and burros was in direct competition 
with domestic livestock and wildlife. Attempts to control this use resulted in a controversy 
with the wild horse sympathizers. The Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971 was passed by 
Congress to establish a policy for management of these animals while providing them a 
legitimate place on the range. We developed procedures to provide a program for manage- 
ment of these animals under the Act and set up the Adoption Program . A National Wild Horse 
Advisory Council was appointed to provide federal land managers with advice based on their 
knowledge and experience on this highly visible public land use. 

Under our newly formed planning system, the Bureau's Western Oregon Management Plan 
was implemented July 1 , 197 1 . This plan met the requirements of modem legislation dealing 
with air and water quality, improving the environment, protection and enhancement of other 
resources located on the timber sale contract areas, construction of roads to higher standards, 
protection of scenic corridors along roads, and limiting logging adjacent to recreational sites. 
This new plan resulted in an annual sale reduction of 150 million board feet. This was due 
in part to environmental considerations, the destructive 1962 windstorm and the Oxbow fire 
of 1966. 

The Environmental Impact Statement process was refined to meet the requirements of the 
National Environmental Policy Act. We initiated programmatic environmental statements 
on broad program areas of coal, oil shale, upland oil and gas leasing, timber harvest, and 
management of domestic livestock. 

The proposed construction of the Alaska Pipeline was a major project requiring the Bureau' s 
workforce to develop environmental and technical guidelines and monitoring for a safe 
construction of the project. The Final EIS on the pipeline was completed in March 1972. 
Environmental stipulations to manage construction of the pipeline were far more stringent 
than any previously established. This required extensive cooperation and coordination with 
industry, the State of Alaska, and the federal agencies involved. 

During this period of time we expanded the role of Eastern States Office. It had been serving 
as a land office for many years and the need for a full service office in that region of the country 
was rapidly growing. This required a new State Director and supporting staff. 

I can't stress enough the admiration I had for the BLM workforce then and now. Also, the 
relationship that existed between my office and the Secretary of the Interior made for 
extremely pleasant working conditions. I always felt that Secretary Rogers C.B. Morton and 
Assistant Secretary Harrison Loesch would back us on tough decisions and I have many 
examples where they stood right with us. 

I'm still interested in public land management and try to stay involved by volunteering for 
projects which I enjoy. It was an interesting and sometimes hard ride from my early years in 
Billings, Montana, but I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to complete the trip without 
getting bucked off. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


Council on 



The same year Americans landed on the moon, Congress passed the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). Senator Henry 
Jackson was instrumental in getting the act through Congress. In the late 
1960s, a symposium he organized recommended that Congress establish a 
national policy on environmental quality. There was even discussion on the 
Hill on whether Americans should have a constitutional right to a clean 

Attesting to the strength of the environmental movement, NEPA passed 
the Senate unanimously. President Nixon waited a few days so he could sign 
the bill into law on January 1, 1970. Other than placing environmental 
protection on a par with motherhood and apple pie, few knew what the act 
would bring. 

NEPA required federal agencies to consider the potential impacts from 
proposed major actions and created the Council on Environmental Quality 
(CEQ) to implement its provisions. According to Ron Hofman, then acting 
Chief of the Division of Planning and Environmental Coordination, the idea 
of environmental impact statements (EISs) was added to the act at the last 
minute to provide an "action-forcing mechanism" for agencies to (1) 
discuss their actions with the public and with state and local governments, 
and (2) to formulate management alternatives after extensive on-the- 
ground evaluation. 

Once draft statements were presented to the public for review and 
comment, final statements were filed with CEQ. The Interior Department 
established the Office of Environmental Project Review to direct and 
approve EIS activities in the various bureaus. 

Implementation of NEPA in BLM was assigned to Irving Senzel, 
Assistant Director for Lands and Minerals. To handle this new and rapidly 
growing workload, the Division of Program Development was renamed the 
Division of Planning and Environmental Coordination (P&EC). Under 
Hofman, the Division hired several new employees, including a sociologist, 
an economist, and an environmental education specialist, to review impacts 
on the "human" as well as the physical environment. P&EC staffs were also 
established in State and District Offices. For major projects, 
interdisciplinary EIS teams were set up. 

Lacking guidelines from CEQ and the Office of Environmental Project 
Review, BLM first had to clarify what a "major federal action" requiring an 
EIS was. The Bureau also needed to decide when other kinds of 
environmental analyses would be appropriate. The idea of doing 
environmental assessments (EAs) originated in BLM and was later picked 
up by the Department and incorporated into CEQ guidelines. P&EC issued 
a BLM Manual on NEPA requirements in 1971 that was used as a model by 
other agencies. 

BLM also had to decide at what level of a program it needed to do an 
EIS. Allotments, resource areas, districts, states, regions, and nationwide 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 


by Ron Hofman 
Associate State Director, California State Office 

Editor's Note: Ron Hofman was in charge of the Division of Planning and Environmental 
Coordination in Washington when NEPA passed, and continued in that post until 1976. 

I guess it was a case of being in the right place at the right time. In 1970, 1 was given the job 
of implementing NEPA, which came to have a dramatic impact on the entire organization. 

It seems like I had been preparing for NEPA during my entire career in BLM. When I began 
as a forester in Colorado in 1958, we didn't have a specialist for every program — so I had to 
learn about the range program, wildlife issues, recreation, fire, soil and watershed. BLM was 
really in the job of managing all these resources together as systems. So when NEPA required 
us to look at the effects our actions were having across the board, I and other managers could 
relate to that concept. The main issue was to fit this ecosystem approach into the Bureau's 
customary narrow way of doing business, in the program-by-program channels of BLM's 
policy, procedure, budget. 

The answer to the program "blinders" problem was to initiate an interdisciplinary approach 
to analysis and problem solving, while preparing environmental impact statements or 
environmental analysis documents. Here again the tendency was for specialists to individu- 
ally start these documents. We had to put together some fairly specific training sessions, so 
after issuing BLM manuals on NEPA, my staff and I visited each state to conduct this training. 
Its basic premise was to assemble specialists on an interdisciplinary team, all working 
together to conduct the analyses. The Bureau's policies and procedures for conducting 
analysis of environmental impacts were among the first to be formalized by federal agencies. 

Another aspect of NEPA which I think the Bureau responded very well to, was the 
requirement for looking at impacts on the "human" environment. The Bureau understood that 
a lot of what we did, especially in grazing, logging, and mineral development, would continue 
to have a large impact on small western communities and their cultures. It was with some 
pride that I hired the first sociologist in the Bureau in 1972. It was also nice that she was a 
woman and that she was black. Many more people from the social sciences were hired 
throughout the Bureau to respond to NEPA, and these folks contributed to the learning and 
capability of the organization. It was a major growth step for us in understanding ourselves 
as a multiple-use agency. 

There was a down side to implementing NEPA, though. The legal challenges to projects 
forced agencies, including the Bureau, to think in the defensive terms of legal adequacy of 
documents. This took away from the initiative and motivation of the Bureau and weakened 
our opportunity to build on our ecological skills. On balance, however, NEPA was great for 
BLM. It started us thinking in ecosystem terms, using interdisciplinary teams, adding social 
science skills, and enhancing peoples' knowledge of the environment. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by Ron Hofman 
Associate State Director, California State Office 

Earth Day Number One, April 22, 1970, was an exciting time. Elementary schools, high 
schools, junior colleges, and universities were calling us asking for speakers to talk about the 
environment. How was it being threatened? What could the public do about it? 

Secretary Hickel established a Youth Task Force to respond to questions and issues that 
young people were raising about the quality of the environment. Linda Bemis in the Division 
of Planning and Environmental Coordination was BLM's representative on the Task Force. 

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) passed in response to an overwhelming 
national concern about the environment. It had provisions for providing citizens with a better 
understanding of the environment and how to protect it. This authority, together with the 
demand from the public, gave BLM the opportunity to respond and serve the public in a 
positive way. 

Working with the Oregon State Office, we lined up two college biology majors to draft a 
teachers guide which could be used at the elementary school level. The idea was to provide 
teachers with lesson plans which would get students to observe and learn about the 
environment in the classroom and in the school yard. This draft, finalized by Linda Bemis, 
was tested in the Charlottesville, Virginia, school system with much success. Later, it was 
adopted as required teaching material in the entire elementary school system in the State of 
Pennsylvania. The final teachers guide was called "All Around You." 

We also came up with the idea of using public lands as "Environmental Study Areas." This 
was accomplished by getting some district managers excited about the idea and then directing 
them to do it in annual work plan directives. A DM would typically hire a local 6th-grade 
science teacher to work as a summer temporary, and using a good BLM site near town, the 
teacher would develop a week-long environmental science curriculum. Once the school year 
started, the teacher would schedule sessions on the BLM site and use BLM specialists to help 

Students learned a great deal about biology, about the Bureau, and especially about the 
importance to their local community of maintaining a healthy environment on the public 
lands. Among others we established highly successful environmental study areas at Casper, 
Boise, and Billings and were gratified at the recognition and positive support BLM received 
from local communities. 

The idea of an environmental education program continued through the mid-1970s in BLM 
and the Forest Service. It was a major advance for BLM because it caused the public to realize 
the importance of the public lands and resources in the lives of people and in western 
communities, and the importance of maintaining the health of public land ecosystems. I am 
very proud of the Bureau's work in environmental education. Perhaps in a different form and 
context, the idea and the work remains out there in BLM today. 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 

programs were all considered. When BLM needed to establish national 
policy, it wrote a programmatic EIS. For important on-thc-ground 
activities, field offices wrote EISs. BLM soon realized it would need to 
prepare a "hierarchy of EISs," according to Hofman, at different levels of 
the organization. 

Oil and gas leasing statements were prepared at the state level when 
decisions were reached to offer a certain number of acres for lease. BLM, 
however, never knew how many wells would actually be developed; it 
therefore prepared environmental assessments for each site developed and 
imposed protective stipulations for sensitive areas. For geothermal steam 
resources, BLM estimated field sizes, came up with development scenarios, 
prepared an EIS, and then did EAs on actual development. 

The range program started preparing a programmatic EIS in 1972 to 
address Bureauwide range concerns and to establish national policy for the 
program. BLM's coal program staff analyzed impacts at a regional level 
when regional leasing decisions were reached but wrote programmatic EISs 
to examine potential impacts of new federal leasing policies (see Minerals). 

Many in the environmental community found NEPA a convenient tool 
for asserting their criticisms of BLM and used it in attempts to modify 
BLM's management of the public lands. When BLM completed its 
programmatic EIS on the range program, it was sued by the Natural 
Resources Defense Council (NRDC) for not considering the impacts of 
local actions by preparing local-level statements (see Range). If the Bureau 
prepared local statements that were not grouped into a programmatic EIS, 
it was also criticized. 

BLM also reviewed EISs prepared by other agencies. Its workload was 
often quite heavy because the Bureau had assembled a wide variety of 
expertise to handle NEPA requirements. BLM learned a painful lesson 
reviewing the Alaska Pipeline EIS. Several BLM reviewers were critical of 
the statement, and word of the criticism was picked up by columnist Jack 
Anderson. The Bureau soon learned if it could criticize other agency EISs, 
it could expect the same in return! An era of "politeness" soon developed 
in which BLM restricted EIS reviews to areas it was directly responsible for. 

Environmental education was one of the most positive outgrowths of 
NEPA. The net result of NEPA on BLM, however, was to cause it to 
consider its actions in a new light. Examining the cumulative impacts of its 
actions fostered an ecosystem approach to land management — and 
strengthened BLM's multiple use philosophy. While other legislation 
focused on specific resources, NEPA asked land managers to look at all of 
them together. Out of this developed an interdisciplinary approach to 
solving problems. According to Ron Hofman, NEPA put BLM's 
decisionmaking process into a "holistic context" by having the Bureau 
consider all resources equally. 

In the early 1970s, funding to prepare EISs was only slightly increased; 
BLM had to divert time and effort from other activities to handle the 
increased EIS workload and to stipulate mitigation of adverse impacts for 
actions that were approved. However, it soon became clear that NEPA 

Heirarchy of 

Multiple Use 



Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Diversity of 


requirements had to be met. Thousands of day-to-day actions — permits, 
leases, and licenses — depended on the completion of environmental 
assessments and statements. BLM's program work would have come to a 
stop if funding for NEPA work wasn't increased. In the end it was, with 
Bureau appropriations almost doubling (accounting for inflation) by 1980. 

NEPA also had much to do with the increasing diversity of BLM 
employees. Retired State Director Clair Whitlock recalls that BLM's first 
"Cauldron" — a Bureauwide employee orientation program held in Reno, 
Nevada — was attended by 60 to 70 people almost evenly split between 
range conservationists and foresters, with only a few wildlife biologists and 
women represented. In 1976, two sessions of the Cauldron were held; 56 
occupational skills were represented, including marine biologists and 
cultural resource specialists, plus many more women and minorities. 

For the public, NEPA served to heighten awareness of resource 
interrelationships in natural systems. According to natural resources 
professor Sally K. Fairfax, NEPA became the "cornerstone" for the 
environmental movement's participation in government decisionmaking. 
But this participation was to be increasingly — and unexpectedly — 
expressed through litigation. While NEPA had a decidedly positive 
influence on BLM, according to Ron Hofman, "its use as a legal playground 
took an edge off its grand vision." 




Play Key 


FLPMA is a complex, detailed act that incorporated provisions 
recommended by the Public Land Law Review Commission (PLLRC), the 
Interior Department, and individual members of Congress. Getting both 
houses of Congress to consider and pass an "organic act" establishing 
policy for the management of BLM lands after PLLRC issued its report in 
1970 was a monumental undertaking. Bills were introduced by the 
administration, the House, and the Senate in the 92nd, 93rd, and 94th 
Congresses. BLM employees had much to do with the eventual passage of 
FLPMA, thanks to the continuing support of Directors Rasmussen, Silcock, 
and Berklund, and of the Department under Secretaries Walter Hickel and 
Rogers C.B. Morton. 

Bureau employees played key roles in writing the administration bill: 
Mike Harvey, Chief, Division of Legislation and Regulation, and Eleanor 
Schwartz, who later took the job, drafted the legislation and, with Associate 
Director George Turcott, "sold" it to the Department and the Congress. 
Irving Senzel (Assistant Director, Legislation and Plans) was the "brains" 
and editor-in-chief of the bill, according to Harvey, while Bob Wolf 
(Assistant to Director Rasmussen) analyzed the PLLRC report. 

"My first job was to get and keep strong support from the Department, 
the Office of Management and Budget, and the Council on Environmental 
Quality, which in those days was a key player in the administration. My 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 


by Mike Harvey 

Editor's Note: Mike Harvey began his career with BLM in 1 960. After receiving a law degree 
from Georgetown University, he became a staffer for the Public Land Law Review Commis- 
sion. Harvey returned to BLM in 1968 as Chief Division of Legislation and Regulation, and 
in 1973 became Chief Counsel for the Senate's Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. 

On June 20, 1970 the Public Land Law Review Commission (PLLRC) presented its long- 
awaited report to President Nixon. This event triggered a response by BLM that led directly 
to another long-awaited event: enactment of an "Organic Act" for the public lands admini- 
stered by BLM, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA). 

All of us in BLM knew the PLLRC study (originally due in 1 968) had been used as an excuse 
to delay much needed modernization of the public land management mission and authority 
of BLM. While the Report, containing over 300 recommendations, covered all federal lands, 
its greatest significance was for BLM. Other agencies had clear statutory mandates. BLM was 
the primary target of the Report and everyone knew it. 

We wanted a rapid and reasonable response so no one could speculate about or misunderstand 
BLM's views on the issues. Our response also had to be factual and analytical so BLM could 
establish the basic legislative parameters that would gain secretarial and presidential 
approval and significant public and congressional support. 

By July 8 we had critiqued the Report and by July 17 we submitted our initial analysis to the 
Secretary. Within the next 5 months the Bureau prepared a 250-page detailed analysis, but 
our initial analysis identified the major themes and principles we thought should be adopted. 
At the same time, BLM was implementing the decision by Secretary Hickel and Assistant 
Secretary Loesch to begin modernizing public land laws and regulations. 

On July 2, 1970 the Director stated, "This work is obviously of utmost importance to the 
future management of the public lands and resources administered by BLM. It must be given 
a very high priority...." On July 20, 1971, the National Resource Lands Management Act was 
submitted to Congress. Secretary Morton did not exaggerate when he told Congress, "This 
bill represents an historic proposal. The Department is proposing legislation which, for the 
first time, would state the national policies governing the use and management of 450 million 
acres of the public domain...." 

Three of us put both efforts together: Irving Senzel, Assistant Director Legislation and Plans; 
Bob Wolf, Assistant to the Director; and me. First we needed strong support from the 
Department, OMB, and the Council on Environmental Quality, a key player in the Admini- 
stration. Second, we needed strong support from Congress. With extraordinary support from 
Secretaries Hickel and Morton and Assistant Secretary Loesch, the first task was relatively 
easy. The administration's 1971 proposal was the product. The second task took 5 more years 
and I had to leave BLM and go to the "Hill" to get it done. The final congressional action 
approving FLPMA — Senate passage of the Senate- House Conference Report— came on my 
42nd birthday: October 1, 1976. What a birthday present! 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


Jackson's Bill 

House Bills 

second job was to get and keep strong support from Congress," said Harvey, 
who left BLM in 1973 to take a job with Senator Jackson, Chairman of the 
Interior Affairs Committee. 

The administration's bill, the "National Resource Lands Management 
Act," was introduced in the Senate in 197 1 . This bill focused exclusively on 
BLM, requiring it to inventory public land resources, giving priority to 
areas of critical environmental concern (ACECs). The bill was not 
considered by the full Senate and was reintroduced in the 93rd Congress. 
The Senate declined to consider it, instead passing a bill introduced by 
Senator Henry Jackson. The House took no action on either bill. 

Jackson's bill was reintroduced in the Senate in the 94th Congress. It 
differed from the administration's bill "sometimes with only subtle changes 
or differences in emphasis," according to Schwartz. Like the administration 
bill, it authorized management of BLM's national resource lands under the 
principles of multiple use and sustained yield, and called for a return of fair 
market value to the government for the use and sale of its lands. 

Jackson's bill contained provisions on inventory, planning, public 
participation and advisory boards; authorities for law enforcement; and 
provisions for sales, exchanges, and acquisitions of land. The bill called for 
a working capital fund to be established in BLM and for a land use plan to 
be completed on the California Desert. It also contained amendments to the 
Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 to increase the percentage of revenues paid to 
the states, provisions for mineral impact relief loans and oil shale revenues, 
and requirements for the recordation of mining claims. This bill finally 
passed the Senate on February 25, 1976. 

The House of Representatives took a different approach. In 1972 the 
House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee drafted a bill, the "National 
Land Policy, Planning, and Management Act," incorporating many of 
PLLRC's recommendations. The bill proposed uniform land use planning 
and management activities for all federal land managing agencies but was 
not reported out of committee in time to be considered by the full House. 

In its next session, Congressman Wayne Aspinall was absent, having 
lost a primary election. Under Representative John Melcher of Montana, the 
Subcommittee on Public Lands rewrote the House's legislation, following 
a lengthy series of meetings (about 68 in all) to discuss public land issues. 
A bill was not completed in time to be considered by the full House in the 
93rd Congress, but was introduced in its next session. 

The "Federal Land Policy and Management Act" was similar to Senator 
Jackson's bill but had provisions relating to both BLM and Forest Service 
lands regarding grazing fee formulas, leases and permits, advisory boards, 
and wild horses and burros. The bill also created the California Desert 
Conservation Area and granted the Bureau law enforcement authority. 

By this time, Tim Monroe succeeded Irving Senzel as Assistant 
Director for Legislation and Plans and, under Director Curt Berklund, 
continued the Bureau's work with the Hill to clarify questions on BLM's 
management activities and legislative needs for the public lands. 

The House and Senate reconciled their bills only at the last minute in 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 


by Eleanor R. Schwartz 
Division of Legislation and Regulatory Management 

By August 1976, a comprehensive act relating to the management of public lands had been 
passed by each house of Congress. The Senate disagreed to amendments made by the House 
and requested a conference. Conferees were appointed and Congressman Melcher was 
elected chairman. Because many primaries had been scheduled for early September, the first 
meeting of the conferees could not be held until September 15. 

The first difference addressed by the conferees was the title of the Act. The House called it 
the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, while the Senate called it the National 
Resource Lands Management Act. The Senate conferees deferred to the House on the title 
and on the term to be used for BLM lands — public lands — although they felt it was a 
confusing term. 

And so it went. The conferees met four times between September 1 5 and 22. Most issues were 
resolved rather easily but four issues proved so difficult that they almost killed the bill. The 
Senate conferees objected to the House provisions on grazing fee formulas, 10-year grazing 
permits, advisory boards and permits, and wanted a requirement that mining claimants apply 
for patent within 10 years of recording claims. The House conferees objected to that. 

Before the end of a 5-hour session on September 22, Senator Metcalf of Montana offered a 
compromise package in which grazing fee provisions were deleted, all grazing leases would 
be for 10 years, grazing advisory board functions would be limited to recommendations for 
expenditure of range improvement funds, and the Senate language on mining claims would 
be applicable only to claims filed after enactment of the Act, not to pre-existing claims. 

The conferees could not agree on the package that day but agreed to meet again on September 
23rd, just in advance of the conference on the National Forest Management Act of 1976. 
Substitute compromises were offered by a House and Senate conferee but both were rejected. 
Chairman Melcher adjourned the conference saying he saw no point in prolonging the 
meeting. At that time, hopes for the enactment of a land management act for BLM were dim. 

The 94th Congress was in its last-minute rush before adjournment. But as with many pieces 
of landmark legislation, a compromise was reached at the eleventh hour. On September 28th 
Congressman Melcher made a final effort to reach a compromise. He called a meeting for 
5:30 p.m. that evening. Very few persons, other than conferees and staff, were permitted in 
the conference room. Within a few minutes of coming together, the conferees took a break. 
Word spread among the many persons filling the corridors that the meeting was going badly. 
However, when the conferees reassembled at 7:00 p.m., those present voted almost imme- 
diately for the compromise suggested earlier. 

In keeping with its somewhat stormy and cliff-hanger history, the conference report was 
passed by the House on September 30th and by the Senate on October 1st, just hours before 
the 94th session ended. The Act was signed by the President on October 21, 1976. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by George Turcott 

Editor's Note: BLM put a great deal of effort into getting an "organic act." Former 
Associate Director George Turcott has another perspective to tell in getting FLPMA passed. 
Mr. Turcott began working for BLM as a range conservationist in Elko, Nevada, in 1950. He 
served as a district manager in Canon City, Colorado, and Chief, Resource Management in 
Montana before moving to Washington in 1964. Mr. Turcott was Associate Director from 
1972 to 1979. 

During the waning weeks of the 94th Congress, senators, representatives, and committee 
staffs worked to fashion a compromise acceptable to both Houses. The final hurdle, a point 
on grazing fees, came late one afternoon. The conferees couldn't rewrite the language or 
make compromises, even though some of the other compromises in the bill were contradic- 
tory. The final vote called by the joint chairman of the conference came out a tie, which in 
the legislative process is non-passage — you have to have a majority of both the Senate and 
House conferees voting in favor of the compromise. 

Irving Senzel, Eleanor Schwartz, and I had been working on the Hill with Mike Harvey trying 
to work out language with these people and explain the effects of different languages they 
substituted in committee. I think the lowest point in my life — or my whole career — was the 
day FLPMA hadn't passed. 

BLM put everything it had into getting this act. Many of us oldtimers in the Bureau said that 
before we retired we wanted a basic organic act — and not all this crossword puzzle kind of 
stuff we'd had to work with for 30 years. 

So here we were with six years' effort apparently down the drain. I waited until early evening 
and called up Senator Metcalf, the co-chairman of the conference for the Senate, and asked 
if there was anything we could do on the grazing fee issue, where he could call everybody 
back together again to make one more effort. He said no: "all the procedures are past, George, 
we lost." 

Senator Metcalf was very much in favor of passage, so I tried one more angle with him. I said, 
"well can we work some language in there about some studies and a report back again?" 
Doing studies was, and is, a common legitimizing technique — it affirmed we'd still consider 
certain things, such as fair market value and the points stockman were making as to cost of 
production and so forth. I finally pleaded "just do it for me. Make one more try ." He did. And, 
lo and behold, that night we got one more vote — the one vote we needed — and that's how we 
got FLPMA and the study on grazing fees. 

FLPMA was expanded tremendously from the original draft as it developed to the final. 
Section after section of it is as detailed as a regulation or a Bureau manual procedure — and 
that's detailed. I mink it's a natural result of the pulling and tugging that occurred in the Public 
Land Law Review Commission, of saying something about one resource and at the same time 
providing counterbalances in other areas of the act. It's a very detailed, difficult act and had 
to undergo clarification by later Congresses. 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 

1976, as described by Eleanor Schwartz and Associate Director George 
Turcott. FLPMA's major provisions are as follows: 

Congressional Review of Land Withdrawals — While FLPMA 
provided for the continuation of all classifications and withdrawals made M . 

under the Classification and Multiple Use Act, Section 202 also required Provisions of 
BLM to review these actions when preparing new land use plans. Congress FLPMA 
was empowered to review sales of land in excess of 2,500 acres or 
withdrawals of tracts over 5,000 acres, as well as decisions on principal uses 
of lands in areas greater than 100,000 acres. 

By the end of the decade, BLM had taken little action on reviewing 
existing withdrawals or classifications; it was preparing an inventory of 
these actions and implementing new land use plans (Resource Management 
Plans) in the field. Prior to FLPMA, 67 million acres of the public lands had 
been formally withdrawn from the public domain, including land for BLM 
and Forest Service recreation sites, land adjacent to National Parks, land to 
protect watersheds, and land for Forest Service roadside zones. Under the 
CMU Act, BLM had also classified more than 150 million acres of its own 
lands in the lower 48 states for retention, plus an additional 32 million acres 
in Alaska. 

Recreation and Public Purposes Act Amendments — FLPMA amended 
the R&PP Act to increase the land BLM could sell or lease to state and local 
governments, and it required public participation in all decisions to dispose 
of lands under the act. 

Law Enforcement — FLPMA authorized BLM to hire a force of 
uniformed rangers in the California Desert, but required the Bureau to rely 
on local officials as much as possible through cooperative agreements with 
local enforcement agencies. 

Finance and Budget — FLPMA provided BLM with long-needed 
authorities that made its work more efficient. FLPMA established BLM's 
Working Capital Fund. It also allowed BLM to accept contributions and 
donations for specific activities on BLM lands (e.g., wildlife habitat 
improvements or recreation developments) and allowed BLM to establish 
service charges for applications and documents. 

Land Exchanges and Acquisitions — FLPMA provided for cash 
payments from the government to equalize values of exchanged lands. It 
also gave BLM authority for acquisition under its land use plans but limited 
the government's power of eminent domain. BLM was allowed to use Land 
and Water Conservation funds to acquire public recreation lands. 

Special Management Areas — Section 202 of FLPMA authorized BLM 
to identify areas of critical environmental concern (ACECs) through its 
planning process. ACECs were defined as areas "within the public lands 
where special management attention is required" to protect "historic, 
cultural or scenic areas, fish and wildlife resources, or other natural systems 
or processes...." 

Livestock Grazing — FLPMA authorized a study of grazing fees but 
prohibited any increase in the fee in 1977. To assure long-term stability and 
use of BLM lands by the livestock industry, it also authorized 10-year 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Curt Berklund 


by Curt Berklund 

Editor's Note: Dr. Curt Berklund was retiredwhen he came 
to Washington early in 1970. He is again retired, living in 
Spokane, Washington, working the financial markets and 
managing a private foundation he set up to fund, among 
other things, scholarships in resource management at the 
University of Idaho. And he still uses a sharp eye and quick 
reflexes to participate in trap shooting competitions. 

The year 1973 was a threshold year for the Bureau. Many 

changes were in the wind as the nation grappled with the 

conflicts of Watergate and a mid-East oil embargo. As a staff 

assistant and Deputy Assistant Secretary in the office of 

Assistant Secretary Harrison Loesch, I had been involved 

with Bureau policy development and observed the need for administrative change. When I 

assumed the Director's job in July 1973, one of my first actions was to leave Washington and 

meet with the State Directors. I had the highest confidence in the State Directors and the field 

structure. They needed leadership from Washington and the opportunity to carry out the 

programs and be supported, not second-guessed or "rolled." The State Directors needed 

someone who treated them candidly and with respect. 

The Bureau had few trusted constituencies. Strong political support was needed to build a 
record as a professional natural resource agency that would manage the programs on-the- 
ground in the full multiple-use context. One of my desires was to establish a way of building 
our credibility outside the government and have groups and key individuals we could count 
on. We went to work with state and county governments through the Western Governors and 
the National Association of Counties to help build a constituency among those who were 
closest to the everyday decisions BLM managers were making. Over the years, this effort 
really paid dividends. We also worked on improving our relationships with the news media. 

One of the more important tasks was to begin building credibility with Congress. We 
organized the Bureau's first formal, well-staffed, Congressional liaison organization; trained 
the people; and gave them the support and information necessary to deal effectively with 
Congress. I also spent countless hours working with key members of the Senate and House 
of Representatives to assure that BLM's message was presented from a foundation of 
professionalism in natural resource management. Former Members such as Julia Butler 
Hansen, Alan Bible, and Wayne Aspinall, already supportive of the Bureau's mission, 
needed a source of credible information. During my tenure as Director, we effectively tripled 
the Bureau's budget and added skills to district and resource area offices that were unheard 
of in the 1960s. I was adamant during this period of growth that the Washington Office would 
not siphon off the increased positions and budget dollars. We stayed lean and efficient. I split 
energy mineral programs from the renewable resource programs in order to give better 
leadership to both. This resulted in giving our offshore and onshore leasing programs more 
visibility and effectiveness. We leased more acreage (OCS and public domain) for oil and gas 
exploration than had been leased previously. We cleared lots of hurdles in setting up a 
geothermal leasing program, and today a considerable amount of electricity is generated in 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 

the West from that source. 

Delegating the authority and responsibility to the field comes to mind as one of my most 
notable achievements. I felt that if the field organization had leadership, authority, and 
support from Washington it would give confidence to the field managers that they were in 
charge and were accountable for their program assignments. Then, they would make their 
decisions with knowledge that Washington wouldn't cave in to some real or perceived 
political challenge and "roll" the decisions. This also helped the Washington staff realize 
their role was to develop policies and procedures and evaluate the field manager's perform- 
ance, not dictate how the field should operate. 

We won control over our NEPA implementation processes in the Bureau previously central- 
ized in the Secretary's office. We accomplished it only because the professionals in the 
Bureau were given the responsibility to show we could write, edit, and review our own 
environmental documents. That road was rocky at times but the superb help from countless 
individuals allowed us to internalize the program and make it work as part of the overall 
decision process. 

We worked very hard to secure approval of an "organic act" for the Bureau. Trying to 
administer programs governed by over 3,000 land laws was virtually impossible. The task 
divided us and did not generate the constituent support we needed. We received special 
dispensation from the Department and the administration to work out the legislation, because 
I had chaired the Department's committee to review the Public Land Law Review 
Commission's report and make recommendations for implementation. Former Secretary 
Tom Kleppe was instrumental in providing BLM the support we needed to cut the deals and 
work out the language we felt was required to formulate the legislation. We fought hard on 
key issues such as wilderness review, law enforcement authority, the California Desert 
National Conservation Area and administrative provisions needed to streamline our ap- 
proach to multiple-use management. I personally opposed making the Director a presidential 
appointee; however, we were able to legislate some level of protection for the career ranks. 
I established the organization to implement FLPMA and implementation began while I was 
still Director. We set up a multi-disciplinary committee of Washington managers and staff 
and made considerable progress in setting out basic guidelines. 

One of our additional achievements was securing congressional approval of the Payments In 
Lieu of Taxes legislation. Recognized as truly "good neighbor" legislation, this helped to 
reduce much of the friction with local governments in the West. We modified the Alaska 
pipeline environmental statement and secured approval for the construction permits. 

We started a record search through the Eastern S tates Office to identify federal coal resources 
in the Appalachian Region. We were losing federal coal simply because the records were 
inaccurate. This program prevented more serious criticism of the Bureau by Congress and 
others because we identified the problem and sought solutions. 

As I look back beyond me dozen years or so since I had close association with the Bureau, 
I appreciated the opportunity to have served. I made some close friends and learned much. 
While my association with BLM is fairly limited, I still keep in touch with a few friends and 
welcome calls at any time. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

grazing permits and required 2-year notices of cancellation. BLM grazing 
advisory boards were directed to advise BLM on the development of 
Allotment Management Plans and the allocation of range improvement 

Wilderness — Section 602 of FLPMA directed BLM to review the 
public lands for wilderness potential as set forth in the 1 964 Wilderness Act. 
The act also directed BLM to conduct early wilderness reviews on all lands 
designated as primitive or natural areas before November 1, 1975. 

Wild Horses and Burros — FLPMA amended the Wild and Free 
Roaming Horse and Burro Act to authorize the use of helicopters in horse 
and burro roundups. Wild horse and burro populations had more than tripled 
since passage of the Wild and Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act in 197 1 — 
horse numbers on BLM lands in the West were estimated at more than 
60,000, compared to 17,000 in the late 1960s. 

Minerals Management — FLPMA modified the formulas for 
distribution of funds collected under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 and 
the Geothermal Steam Act of 1970. It also required persons holding claims 
under the General Mining Law of 1872 to record their claims with BLM 
within 10 years. FLPMA authorized loans to state and local governments to 
relieve social and economic impacts of mineral development and directed 
the Secretary to develop stipulations that would prevent unnecessary or 

Associate Director 

Assistant Director 
Minerals Management 

Program Development & Analysis 
Environmental Assessment 
Mineral Resources 
Outer Continental Shelf Offices 

Assistant Director 

• Land and Realty 

• Recreation 

• Range 

• Forestry 

• Watershed 

• Wildlife 

Assistant Director 
Legislation and Plans 

Congressional Liaison 

Planning & Environmental Coordination 

Cooperative Relations 

Legislation and Regulatory Mgt. 


Environmental Assistance 

Public Affairs 

Program Evaluation 

Policy Analysis 


Assistant to Director 

Office of Coal Mgt. 

Assistant Director 
Technical Services 

Information Systems 


Cadastral Survey 


Fire Protection & Management 


Access & Transportation R/Ws 

Assistant Director 

Budget & Program Development 


Management Research 


Administrative Services 

BLM organizational structure in 1977 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 

undue degradation of the land. 

Other Provisions — FLPMA established the California Desert 
Conservation Area and directed BLM to develop a land allocation plan for 
the area by 1980. FLPMA also repealed the Homestead Act (except in 
Alaska where it was given a 10-year life) and other settlement acts. The act 
also decided how future directors of BLM would be selected — by the 
president, with approval from the Senate. 


In the 1970s, systematic land use planning was implemented in the 
field. Management Framework Plans (MFPs) were prepared for 80 to 85 
percent of BLM lands in the lower 48 states by 1976. Data from resource 
inventories was considered with economic and social information to 
develop and compare management alternatives. After holding a series of 
public meetings, BLM Resource Areas revised and finalized the MFPs, and 
implemented them as management tools. 

Ironically, NEPA had much to do with the demise of BLM's first 
successful, Bureauwide planning system. Court decisions had made EISs 
the Bureau's primary tool for analyzing resources, impacts, and 
management alternatives on the ground — especially for BLM's range 
activities. MFPs were becoming duplicative. Also, Section 202 of FLPMA 
required BLM to develop a more comprehensive land use planning system 
for "developing, displaying, and assessing" management alternatives; it 
also directed the Bureau to strengthen its coordination with state and local 

Therefore, starting in 1977, BLM began developing Resource 
Management Plans (RMPs), which were to be prepared in the field in 
conjunction with Environmental Impact Statements. In 1979, BLM phased 
in a transition from MFPs to RMPs, whereby scheduled updates of MFPs 
would be replaced by RMPs. By 1988, 61 RMPs were completed 
Bureauwide — about half of the RMPs that will eventually be prepared. The 
Bureau has scheduled replacement of all its MFPs by 1994. 

The basic steps in completing an Resource Management Plan are: 

1. Develop public participation plan. 

2. Identify issues. 

3. Develop planning criteria (set standards for data collection and 
formulation of management alternatives). 

4. Gather information, inventory resources. 

5. Analyze management situation. 

6. Formulate management alternatives. 

7. Estimate effects of alternatives. 

8. Select preferred alternative. 

9. Publish draft RMP/EIS (90-day comment period). 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by Robert A. Jones 

Editor's Note: Bob Jones began his career with BLM in 1 953. After holding lands and realty 
positions in Montana and the Washington Office, he became Chief, Office of Program 
Development — later the Division of Planning and Environmental Coordination. Bob Jones 
and his staff developed and implemented BLM's land use planning system in the 1960s and 
1970s. Indeed, Bob Jones was the Bureau's planning system until his retirement in 1981. 

One of the most interesting periods in the history of BLM's planning program was the change 
from Management Framework Plans (MFPs) to Resource Management Plans (RMPs). This 
is how it happened. The Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) requires land 
use plans as a basis for public land decisions. It also requires the Department to publish 
regulations specifying how these plans are to be prepared. BLM initially felt that MFPs 
would meet requirements of FLPMA. 

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to analyze and 
consider environmental impacts of all major federal actions, and to prepare and publish 
Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) when these actions significandy affect the environ- 
ment. These EISs are then fded with the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). The 
Departmental Office of Environmental Project Review (OEPR) directed NEPA implemen- 
tation in Interior. OEPR exercised the Secretary's authority to approve and file EISs, and was 
heavily involved in the EIS process. They often specified alternatives to be analyzed and the 
level of analysis. The bureaus could not approve and file EISs even when they had authority 
and responsibility for the decisions involved. These overlapping responsibilities created 
much tension between OEPR and BLM. 

While there was much pressure on BLM to file EISs for proposed MFP approvals, no BLM 
director wanted to invite the OEPR involvement that would follow. Instead, BLM held that 
where implementation of features of many MFPs constituted a major federal action, one EIS 
would be prepared to analyze the cumulative environmental impact. We used this approach 
for the grazing EISs required by a court judgment, and it worked, as far as NEPA compliance 
was concerned. However, livestock grazing is widespread and influences most public land 
decisions. As a result, since the grazing EIS process was so much better publicized and drew 
so much wider public attention than MFP preparation, it was, by default, assuming a major 
portion of the mulUple use planning role. 

In mid-1977, Director Frank Gregg decided that compliance with FLPMA required substan- 
tially upgrading the MFP process, and that BLM should coordinate with the Forest Service, 
which at that time, was revising its mulUple-use planning process. We hoped to reestablish 
the resource allocation decision process in the multiple-use plan as required by FLPMA, 
break OEPR's hold on EIS filing authority, and substantially upgrade the planning system 
to meet the needs of the 1 980s, all at one time by using the same basic planning components 
being developed by the Forest Service. The details would, of course, differ to accommodate 
BLM needs. BLM called its product the Resource Management Plan (RMP). The big gamble 
was whether RMP/EIS filing authority would be delegated to BLM. OEPR was strongly 
opposed. We won! In 1979 filing authority was delegated by Secretary Andrus thru 
regulations he approved which launched the Resource Management Planning process. 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 

10. Publish final RMP/EIS (30-day protest period). 

11. Monitor and evaluate overall plan. 

12. Prepare activity plans. 

Public meetings conducted by the employees developing the plan are 
required during issue identification, development of planning criteria, and 
publication of both the draft and final RMP/EIS. Once the RMP is approved, 
BLM prepares more specific activity plans for specific programs (e.g., 
Allotment Management Plans, Habitat Management Plans, or others); the 
activities proposed in these plans must conform to the RMP. For actions that 
don't, the District Manager prepares a plan amendment, again with 
participation from the public. 


Mineral policy in the 1970s was largely influenced by the Arab oil 
embargo. In 1973, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries 
(OPEC) imposed a four- fold increase in the price of oil, and in response to 
the Yom Kippur War, several countries placed an embargo on oil exports 
to the United States. This action, combined with an increased reliance on 
automobiles for personal transportation by the public, created the infamous 
gas lines of 1973. The nation's dependency on foreign oil had risen to 36 
percent, with 10 percent coming from Arab countries. 

Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Mineral Leasing Statistics 1971-1981 


Gulf Coast 

West Coast 

Atlantic Coast 
























■ — ■ 






















































































Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by Edward J. Hoffmann 
Manager, Alaska Outer Continental Shelf Office (1973-1978) - Retired 

On a hot summer day in 1973 a cryptic message reached me in the Arizona State Office from 
Ed Hastey approving my reassignment to Anchorage as head of a newly established Alaska 
Outer Continental Shelf Office. After spending a decade in Alaska in the '50s and early '60s, 
the opportunity was most welcome. 

The initial charge was to assemble a small multi-disciplinary team to begin assessing the 
probable environmental impacts of exploratory oil and gas drilling in federal waters off 
Alaska. The Arab oil embargo and the administration's ensuing Project Independence 
quickly changed the mission to a full-blown effort with responsibilities ranging from 
environmental assessment to actual leasing of offshore tracts for exploratory drilling. 

This unique program required specialists with unique disciplines — oceanographers (chemi- 
cal, physical, geologic, biologic), paralegals, petroleum engineers, economists, computer 
types, geographers. There were also some garden-variety skills — administrative types, 
natural resource specialists and the all important clerical positions. 

The first Alaska Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) sale was conducted for tracts in the Northern 
Gulf of Alaska on April 13, 1976. Preparations for the sale surfaced major objections from 
state government and Native (Indian) groups. There was a good bit of give-and-take before 
the sale came to being — accommodations were made on both sides. About $1.75 billion was 
offered in bids, with accepted bids netting $571,900,000 to the Treasury. Disappointingly, 
no discoveries were made during exploratory drilling. The staff received a unit citation from 
the Secretary of the Interior for the excellent work done in bringing to reality the first sale in 
a frontier area. 

The second and final sale of my tenure was in Lower Cook Inlet. It netted over $21 1 million 
in bonus bids to the Treasury. Again, no commercial discoveries resulted from exploratory 

As my tenure began winding down, we were negotiating with the State of Alaska to hold a 
joint state-federal sale in the Beaufort Sea off Prudhoe Bay. These negotiations were 
complex, involving disputed ownership of the seabed. The Eskimos were greatly concerned 
that any further industrialization of their areas would adversely affect their subsistence way 
of life. Finally , an agreement was reached and the sale consummated well after my retirement 
in August 1978. 

The OCS offices, while within BLM, were unique in that they were responsible to the director 
rather than a state director. Since the programs were highly visible, politically sensitive, and 
controversial, the Office of the Secretary took a more than casual interest. The OCS offices 
eventually were transferred to Minerals Management Service. 

In retrospect, the 5 years I spent as Manager of the Alaska OCS office were the highlight of 
a varied career spanning over three decades. It was especially gratifying to have had the 
opportunity to gather a highly motivated crew from a wide variety of disciplines in an 
interesting and controversial program. 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 

President Nixon reacted to the situation by announcing Project 
Independence on November 7, 1973. The project called for making the U.S. 
self-sufficient in energy by 1980. Development of federal mineral reserves 
were an important part of this equation. Nixon's policy was followed by 
succeeding presidents. 

Mineral leasing increased dramatically in response to the embargo. 
Drilling and production were up all over the nation, in the East as well as the 
West. Mineral development was further spurred by Congressional tax cuts 
for the domestic petroleum industry. BLM began leasing Outer Continental 
Shelf lands off Alaska and the mid-Atlantic states in 1976. By 1980, the 
Bureau administered 113 leases for 570,000 offshore acres in Alaska and 
232 leases covering 1.3 million acres off the Atlantic Coast. 

Increase in 

Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Mineral Leasing Statistics 1971-1981 


Total Production 

Natural Gas 
(1,000 cu. ft.) 

(million bbl) 


































The problem of speculation in oil and gas leasing soon reappeared. 
Private filing companies told the public they could strike it rich in the federal 
oil and gas "lottery" (the simultaneous oil and gas noncompetitive leasing 
program, or SIMO) fora small fee. While BLM was charging $10 for SIMO 
applications, filing companies charged up to $ 1 00, and, for the vast majority 
of noncompetitive lease holders, chances were quite good that they would 
not realize any profits from their risks. 

A 1970 Bureau study found that federal coal was being leased at a fast 
pace, but that little production was occurring. Coal reserves were being tied 



Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

New Coal 

Coal Leasing 
Act of 1976 

up with few royalties coming into the U.S. Treasury. In response, Secretary 
Rogers C.B. Morton stopped BLM from issuing coal leases and prospecting 
permits in May 1971. 

In February 1973, the Department announced BLM was developing a 
new coal policy for the nation. A year later, the Energy Mineral Allocation 
Recommendation System (EMARS) was announced. The policy called for 
BLM to determine the rate at which federal coal should enter the market, 
select sites where good quality coal (and good land rehabilitation) could be 
had, and only then determine a leasing schedule. 

EMARS was spelled out in BLM's draft programmatic EIS for coal. 
Both the EIS and EMARS were criticized in 1974 as being too general, and 
Interior withdrew the proposed policy. By 1975, the Department drafted 
and released the Energy Minerals Activity Recommendation System 

EMARS II emphasized market planning; it was designed to set up 
regulations and incentives that would, according to William Moffat of the 
Department's Office of Policy Analysis, "lead industry, acting in its own 
interest, to do what we think the nation needs." This plan called for leasing 
coal by competitive bid at no less than fair market value. The intent of the 
policy was to lease only those lands that needed to be leased; it was supposed 
to halt speculation by enforcing the diligent development provision of the 
Mineral Leasing Act of 1920. 

The programmatic EIS issued with the release of EMARS II, however, 
was attacked by environmental groups as being of poor quality — so poor as 
to "preclude meaningful comments" according to the Natural Resources 
Defense Council (NRDC). NRDC subsequently threatened to sue. It had 
recently won its challenge to BLM's grazing EIS, but Interior decided to 
proceed with EMARS II. NRDC sued the Department and won in 1 977. The 
District of Columbia District Court ruled that BLM's EIS was inadequate 
and stipulated how this was to be corrected — largely through a new EIS that 
would incorporate additional comments from the public. 

By this time several other things had happened. The Coal Leasing 
Amendment Act of 1976 set a federal royalty rate for coal at 12-1/2 percent 
on leases issued after mid- 1 976 (prior to this, rates were inconsistently set). 
It also abolished preference right leasing, which had been authorized under 
the Mineral Leasing Act of 1 920 in cases "where prospecting or exploratory 
work is necessary to determine the existence or workability of coal deposits 
in any unclaimed, undeveloped area...." 

The Surface Mining and Reclamation Control Act of 1977 was passed 
to ensure rehabilitation of surface-mined lands — most federal coal lands 
were to be mined in this manner — and created the Office of Surface Mining. 
The National Energy Act of 1977 called for increased coal development, 
energy conservation, decontrol of natural gas pricing by 1985, and 
development of alternate energy sources, such as solar, geothermal, wind, 
and "mini-hydro" sources. 

And finally, FLPMA had been enacted and President Carter was in the 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 

White House. Before the court's decision on the NRDC suit, Carter called 
for reform of the Federal coal leasing program, wanting coal mining to be 
compatible with other uses of the land. He also called for an investigation 
of current leases to determine if they were being diligently developed in an 
environmentally sound manner. 

After the Department reviewed BLM's coal program, another policy 
review was mandated by the NRDC decision. In 1979, Interior issued a final 
environmental impact statement on BLM's coal program. As described by 
Frank Gregg, BLM's policy was to resume coal leasing by "limiting sales 
to foreseeable needs, providing strong voices for state and local interests, 
and enforcing stringent environmental protection." The policy also sought 
to keep consumer prices down. With this policy in mind, Interior projected 
a coal production shortfall starting in 1985. Plans were made for coal lease 
sales to be held in 1981 and 1982, but a new administration would handle 
the sales. 

In 1970, President Nixon reopened the idea of leasing oil shale. A 
presidential task force recommended the government offer 20-year leases 
by competitive sealed bid at fixed royalty rates. Secretary Hickel backed off 
the idea, saying that it was premature to lease shale without more fully 
assessing the environmental consequences. The discovery of oil on 
Alaska's North Slope may have influenced him too. 

Western Senators were up in arms about this perceived about-face. In 
1971, a prototype oil shale leasing program to develop extraction 
technology was announced, provided that environmental concerns could be 
resolved. BLM first asked the minerals industry to nominate tracts. In 1973, 
it issued a six-volume EIS on the program. By early 1974, four of the six 
tracts offered were leased by competitive bid; the "C-a" tract in Colorado 
provided the largest bonus bid yet received for a federal lease — $210 
million — but it was never fully developed. Although oil prices were up at 
the time, the cost of oil shale retorting was still too high to make it 
economically feasible. 

The General Mining Law of 1 872 came under increasing criticism after 
the 1960s, but had not been repealed. In a letter to Wayne Aspinallin 1969, 
Stewart Udall said, "This outmoded law has become the major obstacle to 
the wise conservation and effective management of the natural resources of 
our public lands." 

The Public Land Law Review Commission (PLLRC) took a middle 
road on this issue. It recognized the law had problems — like permitting 
people not really interested in developing minerals to obtain mining claims 
for other purposes — but they also knew the mining industry favored 
obtaining title to public lands. 

PLLRC called for a new mining policy that incorporated features of the 
1872 act and the current mineral leasing scheme. PLLRC suggested that 
only minerals be patented under the law. Surface use would be allowed only 
as needed for mining operations — but it could be disposed of at fair market 
value. A royalty system was advocated that would provide monies to the 

Oil Shale 



Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

This open pit copper mine originated with mining claims on federal land near Ajo, Arizona. 


United States both before and after patenting. 

The mining industry resisted any proposed changes to the 1872 act. 
FLPMA made the first changes to the act, providing for the recordation of 
mining claims on the public lands — allowing BLM managers to account for 
claims when making land use decisions. Proof of assessment work had to 
be filed with BLM annually to hold claims. FLPMA also allowed BLM to 
play a more active role in managing surface lands of claims by monitoring 
operations to prevent unnecessary environmental damage, and it required 
reclamation of mining sites. 

In California, BLM devised a leasing scheme for a unique energy 
resource — wind. Ron Hofman, Associate State Director, arguing that wind 
was a resource when it blew across public lands, was successful in 
establishing a leasing program with royalties based on production. Eleven 
of 13 big leases still operate in the California Desert, bringing in about $2 
million annually in revenues to the U.S. Treasury. 

The Geothermal Steam Act of 1970 authorized BLM to issue leases for 
development and use of geothermal resources (primarily for the production 
of electricity) on federal lands. Final regulations and a final EIS for the 
leasing program were published in 1973. On January 22, 1974, BLM held 
its first competitive geothermal lease sale, offering 33 tracts in California; 
high bids totaling $6.3 million were received for 18 tracts. 

By 1986, more than 300 leases had been issued on federal lands in 
California. An area known as the Geysers in northern California became the 
most productive geothermal field in the world, with about 40 percent of its 
total production coming from BLM public lands. 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 



t . 'I 

*'_ ■ « 


Wind energy turbines on public land at Tehachapi Pass, California Desert District 

Geothermal steam is used in these Pacific Gas & Electric plants to produce electricity in the 
Geysers area ofBLM's Ukiah, California District. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


Alaska Native claims continued to dominate debate in Alaska in the 
early 1970s. Oil companies were eager to build the Alaska Pipeline, and the 
state pressed to continue its land selections. But before any of this could 
happen, Congress had to act on settling Native claims. 

Congress held hearings on the issue starting in 1969 but no bills 
emerged. In 1970, Senator Henry Jackson submitted a bill that called for 
giving Alaska Natives some 10 million acres of land, $1 billion, and a share 
of oil revenues for a limited period of years. Senator Ted Stevens said "I 
think it is a fair bill. It gives you [the Natives] more control and self- 
determination than any such bill in history." The Senate passed the bill, 
apparently without amendment, by a vote of 76 to 8. 

Late in 1970, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld former Secretary Udall's 
"land freeze." In the House of Representatives, the Subcommittee on Indian 
Affairs informally agreed to give Natives title to 40 million acres, but no 
report on that matter was provided. 

In the next session of Congress — 1971 — three bills were introduced. 
One was the previous Jackson measure. Another, supported by Senator Ted 
Kennedy, called for Natives to receive title to 60 million acres, an initial 
payment of $500 million, perpetual sharing of minerals in lands claimed but 
to which title was not given, and establishment of regional corporations. 
The last bill, introduced by Wayne Aspinall in the House, gave 100,000 
acres to Alaska Natives and made additional land available for subsistence 
use, but only on a permit basis. 

The issue was hotly debated, but the pipeline forced compromise. Oil 
companies wanted to recover their costs by moving crude — they had paid 
$900 million in bonus bids to the state to lease lands on the North Slope in 
1969 alone. As law professor Monroe E. Price pointed out, "There would 
have been no Native Claims Settlement Act of the present magnitude had 
it not been for the intense interest of the oil companies in its passage." 

In April 1971, the Nixon administration put forth a proposal which 
included 40 million acres for natives, $500 million in compensation from 
the Treasury, and an additional $500 million from mineral royalties. This 
bill, "the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act," was presented by Nixon 
in a special message to Congress. After considerable debate, a conference 
committee measure was accepted by the House and Senate on December 14. 
Before signing the bill, however, Nixon asked the Alaska Federation of 
Natives to tell him if they approved of the act. By a vote of 5 1 1 -56, they put 
their blessings on the bill. On December 1 8, the day the Natives approved, 
President Nixon signed the legislation. 

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA) gave 40 
million acres of land to natives and extinguished claims based on aboriginal 
rights to any other lands. ANCSA provided $962.5 million in compensation 
for claims not recognized ($462.5 million paid up front, the rest to be paid 
over time to Native corporations) and repealed the Native Allotment Act of 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 


by Curtis V. McVee 
Alaska State Director-Retired 

When I came to Alaska in 1 967, 1 was told by somebody in D.C. that Alaska was not a good 
place for your career because the land was all tied up. The land protest by the Native groups 
in 1965 and the resulting Public Land Order (4582) in 1968 had frozen the land status. 

For a number of years not much was happening. People in Alaska wanted to do things. Some 
could not acquire land for homesteads; public projects like highways and airports were at a 
standstill; and pressure was building from private corporations to lease lands for oil 
exploration and development. 

Recognizing the problem, Congress passed the Alaska Native Claims SetUement Act 
(ANCSA) in 1971 . While the intent of the law was valid — to convey lands to the Natives as 
quickly as possible — the law itself contained built-in controversy. Section 1 1(d)(2) of the act 
allowed for the withdrawal of 80 million acres for possible additions to national park, forest, 
wildlife refuge, and wild and scenic river systems. Native leaders objected to various 
easements being considered for reservation, due to the cultural significance of the lands for 
their people. Recreationists insisted more easements be reserved. 

Needless to say, we were ill-equipped to handle the pending tasks. We were very poorly 
staffed and we were doing things manually — at what I call "one stage past the crowquill pen." 
Guidelines needed to be established to improve and speed up the conveyance process, yet 
protect the rights of all concerned. Studies were needed of Native populations and entitle- 
ments. New fact-finding processes, once developed, would require a great amount of field 
examination and time. Fortunately, the Bureau soon set up a coordination office, and we 
started to get more staff and budget. 

I remember once during this period, Assistant Secretary Harrison Loesch came here for a 
couple of meetings with Native groups. We hadn't yet decided how the act should be 
implemented, but we had drafted some proposed regulations. We are not prepared for the 
reaction we got. At our first meeting, about 150 to 200 people attended. When the proposal 
was presented, the Natives became angry because they had not been involved. They even 
threatened to leave the meeting! 

When the meeting adjourned, we went upstairs with the Depart- 
mental representatives. At that point, I think they began to 
finally understand some of the problems involved with the act. 
We set up a task group to go to D.C. and work on the regulations 
as a team. That really helped get the Department's attention. 
They had thought of it as just another land law that had been 
developed by Congress. They soon became aware it was not just 
a question of economics and politics, but had roots back into the 
aboriginal cultures of these various Native groups. Once we got 
that understanding, things went better. 

Now, 20 years later, we're still working on some of this in 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

1906. ANCSA also established Native Villages to control surface resources 
and Regional Corporations to control the subsurface resources. Each Native 
was given 100 shares in Regional Corporations, which could not be sold 
until 1991. The first conveyance of land to a Native Corporation occurred 
on March 27, 1974. 

Thus, according to professor Price, "By legislative stroke, the Congress 
converted all Alaska Natives into members of the corporate world, 
receivers of annual reports, proxy statements, solicitations and balance 
sheets." With this act, work on the pipeline could begin. 

BLM began withdrawing a corridor across public lands for the pipeline 
in 1971. An EIS was prepared and released in 1972, but was immediately 
contested by environmentalists. In 1973, the federal courts ruled that 
Interior could not grant the right-of-way width given by BLM. Congress, 
concerned with the energy crisis, overruled the court's ruling in November 
1973 and declared the EIS sufficient — ending further debate. The vote was 
close, however: Vice President Spiro Agnew had to break a tie in the Senate. 

Interior issued a permit to build the pipeline on January 23, 1974. Work 
began in late April that year. As many as 21 ,600 employees worked around 
the clock to build the pipeline, which consists of a 4-foot diameter pipe that 
is 800 miles long (422 miles above ground, the rest below). The pipeline was 
completed in 1977. Oil first entered the line on June 20, 1977, and reached 
Valdez on the southern Alaska coast on July 28, 1977. 


Route of the Alaska Pipeline 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 


by Arlan Kohl 
Trans-Alaska Pipeline System Project Manager — Retired 

Editor's Note: Arlan Kohl had a long association with the Trans-Alaska pipeline. In 1971 
he joined the Washington Office's Alaska Pipeline staff to coordinate intra-agency and 
congressional activities. In 1973 he moved to Alaska and held various technical and profes- 
sional positions related to pipeline construction and operation. When he retired from BLM 
in 1987 Arlan was the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System project manager, responsible for 
monitoring pipeline companies for compliance with Interior right-of-way stipulations. 

The Trans- Alaska Pipeline System is a project of superlatives. It transports crude oil from the 
largest oil field in North America to the ice-free port of Valdez on the Gulf of Alaska. It was 
the first hot crude oil pipeline, pumping oil at a temperature of 145°F , built through areas 
containing permafrost. The first bridge across the Yukon River and the first road to the Arctic 
Ocean in the United States were constructed in support of the pipeline project. It was and still 
is the most expensive privately financed project in the world, costing $8 billion. 

If not the first, the Trans- Alaska Pipeline System was one of the first major projects 
constructed after passage of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970. The nine- 
volume Environmental Impact Statement primarily dealt with problems associated with a 
major oil spill and how the elevated sections of the pipeline would affect wildlife migration 
routes, particularly those of caribou herds. A challenge of the report's adequacy was filed in 
federal court, but congressional passage of the Trans- Alaskan Pipeline Authorization Act 
laid the issue to rest by directing the Secretary of the Interior to issue the permits necessary 
for construction. 

Heading the pipeline effort was the Alaska Pipeline Office. The office monitored the 
construction activity of the pipeline to ensure minimal environmental disruption and to assure 
the construction quality of the pipeline. At the height of the project the Alaska Pipeline Office 
had 50 permanent employees. 

Because of the world class nature of the project, it received national and international 
attention. The Alaska Pipeline Office, organized to monitor construction of the pipeline, 
played host to many delegations from around the world who came to observe construction. 
There were representatives from Canada, Germany, Norway, Great Britain, Japan, and the 
Soviet Union. As a result of the experience gained from the project, three BLM employees 
made a trip to the Soviet Union on technical exchange programs. 

The pipeline project also received the attention of prominent political personalities and 
celebrities. During construction, President Gerald Ford visited Alaska and toured the project. 
There were many visits by members of Congress and every Secretary of the Interior since the 
project was proposed has visited the pipeline. Astronaut Wally Schirra was given a special 
briefing on the project in connection with a documentary film he was to narrate. Gladys 
Knight and the Pips spent a night at Tonsina Camp when their group got caught in a 
snowstorm along the pipeline route. 

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline Project was an exciting project to work on. I will forever be 
grateful for the opportunity to have been associated with the project. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Alaska Pipeline 

d(2) Lands 

The pipeline's cost has been placed at anywhere from $7.7 billion to 
$10 billion. The pipeline chalked up firsts in several areas — it is the first 
American line to be built across unstable permafrost and the nation's first 
hot oil pipeline (oil comes out of the ground at 145° F.). The US-USSR 
Environmental Agreement of 1972 allowed several BLM employees to 
learn first-hand about permafrost construction techniques from the 
Russians — which allowed the Department to develop environmental 
stipulations and quite probably saved the oil companies several billion 
dollars. Its 10 pumping stations deliver 2 million barrels of oil per day, 
which in 1982 supplied 10 percent of the nation's energy needs. At Valdez, 
there are 18 oil storage tanks that hold 500,000 barrels each. 

BLM's Office of Special Projects in Alaska monitored the activities 
within the pipeline corridor, which crosses some 500 miles of BLM- 
administcred lands. BLM was reimbursed for this work by pipeline owners. 

Environmentalists realized early that efforts to block the pipeline would 
not meet with success. However, when ANCSA was being debated, they 
successfully negotiated Section 17 (d)(2), which directed the Secretary of 
Interior to withdraw up to 80 million acres of public land for study as new 
national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, and wild and scenic river systems. 
The Secretary was given 2 years to formulate the Department's 
recommendations; Congress was given 5 years to act on them. When 
withdrawn, the "d(2)" lands were protected from all forms of appropriation, 
including mining claims and mineral leasing (most withdrawals are usually 
open to the latter two actions). 

On March 15, 1972, Interior Secretary Morton made preliminary set- 
asides, consisting of 83 million acres. Alaska quickly sued because some 40 
million acres conflicted with lands they wanted and were entitled to under 
the Statehood Act. (When ANCSA passed, the state prepared a selection list 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 


by Tom Noble 
Cadastral Surveyor, Alaska State Office 

BLM in Alaska has been a proving ground for new technology, mostly out of necessity. The 
state is just too large and diverse for land management and survey problems to be handled 
with traditional methods. 

In the early 1970s, a new technology was being developed by Litton Industries. An Inertial 
Guidance System was being tested for aircraft navigation, and I think to the surprise of 
everyone, including Litton, was showing much higher accuracy than anticipated. BLM and 
Litton agreed to test and refine the inertial system to see if survey accuracy could be achieved. 
It could; the system was ideally suited for the type of surveying to be done in Alaska at that 
time — the skeletonized township boundaries of the tremendously large tracts of land needing 
to be transferred to state and Native ownership. During that first year, the advantages of the 
system over traditional methods were immediately apparent, and the techniques and 
procedures have been continually tested, developed, and refined. 

My first experience with the Auto-Surveyor™ was in 1976, as a co-op student with the 
Oregon Institute of Technology on a summer adventure to Alaska. That first Auto- 
Surveyor™ cost over $750,000, including spare parts, training, and some computer software. 
It was nicknamed "Ralph," which was much easier to say than Litton Auto-Surveyor™ 
System. That summer Ralph helped us establish over 1 ,000 protracted survey monuments in 
approximately 150 townships. Ralph was doing so well, in fact, providing accurate geo- 
graphic coordinates quickly and efficiently, that by 1977, BLM decided to purchase another 
Auto-Surveyor™. "Rita" was purchased, at a cost of about $500,000. Combined, Ralph and 
Rita surveyed hundreds of thousands of acres and positioned thousands of survey monu- 
ments. On several occasions during the winter, when surveying in the field in Alaska is 
impractical, they were used in "Lower 48" resurveys. With still a tremendous amount of land 
yet to be surveyed, "Gena" was purchased in 1981 for about the same price as "Rita." 

The immense number of lakes and other water bodies in Alaska led to the development of an 
additional Auto-Surveyor™ capability, known as meander mode. This capability was 
developed because of the growing problems concerning the segregation of the bodies of water 
from the land areas to be patented. Meander mode enables Ralph to collect data, latitude and 
longitude, from a moving vehicle. A helicopter is flown along the shoreline of a lake or river, 
and at the punch of a button, Ralph records the data. This data is later read by other computers, 
and then used to create survey plats and field notes. 

The Auto-Surveyor™ is truly remarkable and it amazes me that it is nearly 15 years old. There 
is still a lot of life left in Ralph, Rita, and Gena, and there is still not a survey instrument that 
can do as much, as easily, as the Auto-Surveyor™. There have been quite a few technologi- 
cal advancements in the last 10 to 15 years however, and the era of Ralph, sad to say, is 
probably nearing its end. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 




Interest I. a /ids 



of some 77 million acres and filed it with BLM on January 22, 1972.) 

Interior and Alaska negotiated until September 1972, when a deal was 
reached that gave the State of Alaska prior right to some 1.9 million acres 
of d(2) lands. The state then withdrew selection of some 36 million acres of 
land, while another 41 million acres were validated. 

Morton came up with a concrete proposal in December 1 973 for the d(2) 
lands. He proposed 83 milhon acres under the "four systems," noting that 
the area within the national park system would be doubled by his plan. 
Morton's plan doubled the size of Mt. McKinley National Park and added 
three new parks in Alaska. It also added three national forests and numerous 
wildlife refuges, plus wild and scenic river areas. 

By law, Congress had to respond to Morton's proposal by December 
1978. President Ford backed the "park expansion plan" for Alaska but his 
effort came too late in his administration to accomplish it. President Carter 
and Secretary Andrus gave the proposal top priority on their agenda. In 
September 1977, they came up with a plan more ambitious than Morton's, 
calling for 9 1 .8 million acres to be included as "National Interest" lands — 
41.7 million acres for 10 new parks, 45.1 million acres for wildlife refuges, 
and 2.5 million acres for wild and scenic rivers. New National Forests were 
eliminated from the proposal, but 2.5 million acres were added to existing 

Congress failed to act on Morton's proposals within ANCSA's 
deadline. With the lands scheduled to revert back to multiple use status, 
President Carter created 17 new monuments encompassing about 56 
million acres on December 1, 1978. Defending the Executive Order, 
Secretary Cecil Andrus said "through the enactment of our proposals, we 
can be certain that the crown jewels of Alaska — its most spectacular natural 
environments, recreation areas, and wildlife habitats — will remain intact 
for the benefit of our nation's citizens." President Carter felt no other action 
would have more "lasting value." 

Conservationists and land users debated this issue for the rest of the 
decade. When Carter lost his bid for reelection in 1980, conservationists 
compromised. The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act 
(ANILCA) passed on December 2, 1980. The act extended the time for 
Alaska to select state lands from 25 years to 35 years; lands previously 
selected by the state and tentatively approved by the Department were 

For the nation as a whole, ANILCA revoked the 1978 executive 
withdrawals and set aside 104.1 million acres for national parks, wildlife 
refuges, recreation areas, and national conservation areas. The act also set 
aside the 1 million-acre White Mountain National Recreation Area 
(including two recreation trails and the Beaver Creek Wild River) and the 
1.2 million-acre Stccse National Conservation Area, which includes 
caribou habitat, the Birch Creek Wild River, and 125 miles of recreational 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 


From modest beginnings in the 1960s, BLM identified and designated 
millions of acres of the public lands in the lower 48 states as special 
management areas to recognize unique or threatened resources on the 
public lands. In 1965, Secretary Udall and Director Stoddard proposed that 
BLM designate 130 natural areas on BLM lands, totaling about 500,000 
acres. These lands, categorized as ecological or geological areas, were set 
aside for research and educational use through BLM's classification 
process. Under Boyd Rasmussen, BLM began to designate recreation lands 
and other areas, such as National Natural Landmarks. 

Special management areas were designated in two ways: by 
congressional or administrative action. Congress established national 
trails, wild and scenic rivers, and national conservation areas. BLM and the 
Department designated recreation areas, primitive areas, and natural areas 
(including outstanding natural areas and research natural areas), resource 
conservation areas, and other areas, such as the Little Book Cliffs Wild 
Horse Range. After FLPMA passed, BLM also designated areas of critical 
environmental concern (ACECs). 

Under Director Burt Silcock, BLM began to set aside major acreages 
of public lands. About 27.00Q acres of land in the Organ Mountains in 
southern New Mexico were dedicated in 1971 as a recreation area. New 
Mexico State University had previously been granted the use of 2,000 acres 
in the area for educational purposes. In Montana, Humbug Spires, Bear 
Trap Canyon, and the Centennial Mountains were designated as primitive 
areas. Bear Trap Canyon was subsequently designated as BLM's first 
wilderness area in 1983 as part of the Lee Metcalf wilderness. 

For many years, BLM's Boise District recognized that the canyon 
country along the Snake River provided a unique and valuable nesting area 
for birds of prey. District Manager Ed Booker "charted a course through the 
Bureau's planning process to preserve the area," according to Silcock. In 
1971, Secretary Rogers C.B. Morton withdrew 26,000 acres of land along 
the river for management as a natural area. The area was renamed the Snake 
River Birds of Prey Area by Secretary Cecil Andrus, who enlarged the total 
area to 482,640 acres in 1980. 

The King Range National Conservation Area, containing 54,000 acres 
of public lands along California's northern coast, was established by 
Congress in 1970 as the nation's first conservation area. Congress required 
BLM to develop a management plan for the area before it was officially 
designated. BLM completed an EIS and adopted regulations for the area in 
1974, when it was officially set aside. 

The King Range Act of 1970 contained provisions for land acquisition 
and cash payments to equalize values of lands exchanged with private 
owners and the State of California. It established a program of multiple use 

Snake River 
Birds of Prey 
Natural Area 

King Range 





Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by Vi Dille and Ken McGinty 
Phoenix Training Center 

As the Bureau of Land Management's technical training facility, the Phoenix Training Center 
had its origin in 1969 as the Lands and Minerals (L&M) Training School, under the 
administration of the Phoenix District. The first Manager was Tom Owen. The L&M School 
offered two 6-week courses each year for beginning lands and minerals specialists. Training 
in lands and minerals was especially needed because no training existed for realty specialists, 
and training in the private sector did not prepare minerals specialists for Bureau work. The 
school was located in the Phoenix District because it had abundant lands cases to be worked 
and Arizona's mild year-round climate would allow trainees to conduct field work during the 
spring and fall semesters. 

By 1972 the L & M School had a new Manager, Paul Rigtrup. During his tenure, several lands 
and minerals short courses were added to the curriculum; an administrative law course was 
offered along with the Bureau's first training for area managers. In addition, the Pipelines and 
Electric Systems short courses were developed and conducted every 2 years in cooperation 
with the industries' respective institutes. By October 1979, the L & M School was separated 
from the Phoenix District, placed under the leadership of the BLM Arizona State Director, 
and became the Phoenix Training Center. At that time, the Training Center had a permanent 
staff of 10 and a 14-course curriculum and had already conducted 2 semesters of the new long- 
term beginning professional course in range management. In 1981, long-term training in 
wildlife habitat management was added to the curriculum, and in 1983 training for planners 
was introduced. Several other forces shaped the Training Center's evolution. The merger of 
BLM and the Minerals Management Service produced a need for specialized minerals 
training. The minerals curriculum increased from 4 courses in 1982 to 22 classroom courses 
and 4 self-study courses in 1988. Other major changes resulted from an evaluation of the 
Training Center and a decision to reorganize it. 

With the trend of budget reductions and less travel, the Phoenix Training Center re-examined 
formal classroom training and began to seek alternative training methods. In 1984, Dr. Larry 
Hamilton became the Manager, responsibile for implementing the Training Center's reor- 
ganization. A division was created to design and deliver training materials, including decen- 
tralized training packages and video programs. Education, computer, audiovisual, and visual 
information specialists were added to the staff. New program areas and responsibilities were 
added: career development; soil, water, and air; and hazardous materials management. 

Two of the Training Center's attributes make it especially effective in serving the Bureau. 
First is the use of visiting instructors instead of a permanent teaching staff. Such instructors 
combine subject matter expertise with field experience to best meet the training needs of field 
employees. Second is that the Training Center was designed to meet the needs of line 
management and is responsible to the Arizona State Director as the representative of the 
Bureau Management Team. The Training Center model, proven effective over the years, will 
carry the Training Center into the 21st century, ensuring the best multiple resource 
management training for Bureau employees. 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 

and sustained yield management for the area — provisions that would be 
seen again in FLPMA. Because private and state lands were intermixed with 
public lands, BLM set up seven management zones in the area to designate 
primary uses (three were for recreational uses, two for residential purposes, 
one for forest management, and one for wildlife habitat). 

The Classification and 
Multiple Use Act of 1964 called 
for an inventory of BLM lands in 
the California Desert to determine 
what areas should be retained in 
federal ownership. BLM's 
challenge on the California 
Desert was to identify land uses 
and types of management 
required in an area receiving 
increasing use by the public. 
Almost all of BLM's 12.5 million 
acres (half of the desert's total 
area) were classified for retention 
and multiple use management. 

In 1971, Secretary Morton 
dedicated 19 areas comprising 2.7 
million acres in the California 
Desert as "National Recreation 
Lands." BLM identified these 
areas through the CMU Act, its 
own planning system, and extensive public involvement. BLM estimated 
that public lands in the California Desert supported more than 7 million 
visitor-use days annually; after the recreation areas were formally 
designated, this figure doubled. 

The California Desert Conservation Area was established by FLPMA 
in 1976, with a draft management plan and final EIS issued for comment and 
review by the public in September 1980. Twelve public meetings were held 
in the area, and BLM received more than 40,000 written comments from 
across the country (with its analysis audited by the California League of 
Women Voters to assure impartiality and fairness to all users). The plan 
allocated desert land into geographic areas according to their primary uses. 
Class "C" (Controlled Use) areas totalled 2.1 million acres, or 17.3 percent 
of the total area. Most of these lands (45 sites totaling 2 million acres) were 
designated areas of critical environmental concern and proposed for 
inclusion to the national wilderness system. Class "L" lands (Limited Use) 
totaled 5.9 million acres (48.5 percent of the total); only low-intensity 
multiple land uses would be allowed, in order to protect resource values. 
Class "M" lands (Moderate Use) struck a balance between use and 
preservation, allowing a variety of uses on 3.3 million acres. Class "I" 
(Intensive Use) lands allowed concentrated uses on 500,000 acres of lands 
by interests as diverse as off-road vehicle (ORV) enthusiasts or hardrock 

California Desert National 
Conservation Area 



Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Secretary Rogers C. B. Morton rode to the dedication of California Desert 
National Recreation lands with dune buggy driver Jerry Van Warmer. 

miners. The plan designated most of this acreage as ORV areas, including 
dry lake beds and sand dune systems. 

The final plan was approved in December 1980. Public involvement 
helped BLM resolve a number of thorny issues; with the public's approval, 
BLM expedited the removal of 10,000 burros from critical desert bighorn 
sheep habitats and desert tortoise areas. In addition, BLM exchanged 5,600 
acres of lands west of Blythe, California, for 480 acres of redwood forests 
owned by the San Diego Gas and Electric Company in the northern part of 
the state, plus 1 ,580 acres of land for addition to the Desert Tortoise Natural 


As early as 1968, California State Director J. Russell Penny proposed 

Desert that a ranger force be established on the California Desert to supervise and 

Rangers control the desert's fast-growing recreational uses. About 95 percent of the 

desert is within 3 miles of a road, and more than 12 million potential visitors 

live within 100 miles of the desert. 

BLM hired its first desert ranger in the Riverside District in June 1972. 
During the next year, Riverside District Manager Del Vail hired six 
additional rangers, and in 1974, 21 more. Because rangers didn't have law 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 

enforcement authorities, their duties were originally to oversee off-road 
vehicle use and report any violations of the law to state or local law 
enforcement officials. Rangers also gathered data on wildlife populations 
and habitats, archaeological sites, and other resources, and provided 
interpretive information to the public. 

Providing information and helping visitors understand the desert's fragile resources takes up 
much of a BLM ranger's time. 

In November 1973, President Nixon issued an Executive Order calling 
on BLM to develop an "Interim Critical Management Program" for 
recreational vehicle use on BLM desert lands, which BLM completed in 
1974. However, desert rangers were not granted their own enforcement 
authority until FLPMA was passed in 1976. By this time, their numbers had 
doubled and they were being hired outside California. But after receiving 
law enforcement authority, Steve Smith of the California State Office said 
that "in most cases, the rangers were able to substitute persuasion and 
diplomacy to avoid using their powers of arrest." 

BLM's first authority for law enforcement was provided by the Wild 
and Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act in 1971; the Bureau hired its first Law 

special agent under the act in 1974. FLPMA gave BLM its first general Enforcement 
authority covering all public lands. The Bureau signed contracts and Authority 
entered into cooperative agreements with state and local agencies to enforce 
state and local ordinances. Special agents (also known as criminal 
investigators) probed violations of the Wild Horse and Burro Act, the 
Archaeological Resources Protection Act, and the Public Rangelands 
Improvement Act. 

BLM estimated that 85 percent of its law enforcement work consisted 
of crimes against property or wild horses and burros. In 1979, the Federal 
Magistrate Act gave desert rangers authority to issue violation notices for 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by Frank Gregg 

Editor's Note: Frank Gregg, a native of Colorado, began a 
long career in natural resources in 1951 with the State's 
Game and Fish Department. He served as executive director 
of the Izaak Walton League, staff assistant to Secretary 
Udall, and vice president of the Conservation Foundation, 
and was chairman of the New England River Basins 
Commission before becoming Director ofBLM in February 
1978. He is now a professor at the University of Arizona. 
This sidebar and his article on FLPMA were excerptedfrom 
a longer paper, Implementing FLPMA: Fashioning Man- 
agement Systems in an Era of Political Volatility, in press. 

Frank Gregg 

I have followed BLM since the 1950s, first stimulated by livestock-wildlife conflicts and 
proposals for federal land disposal, and continued as a Secretarial staff assistant and 
conservation lobbyist in Washington through Chuck Stoddard's and Boyd Rasmussen's 
tenure. I was determined to help the Bureau build on FLPMA to establish a stable, 
professional public land management program genuinely responsive to the diverse range of 
demands on public land resources. I saw the land use planning process mandated by FLPMA 
as a way of assuring that all points of view were brought to bear on land use decisions in the 
field, and to enhance the capacity of the Washington Office to influence policy decisions of 
the Department, OMB, and the Congress affecting public lands. 

The delay in my installation as Director was particularly frustrating because Secretary 
Andrus and Assistant Secretary Martin moved quickly with policy and program changes. The 
Bureau's career leaders had looked forward to having a strong hand in early implementation 
of FLPMA; instead it often found itself responding to individual initiatives from Secretarial 
offices, formulated outside the multiple-use context the Bureau preferred. As a signal to 
public land user groups, I held a series of well-publicized meetings in several western states 
in which local, regional, and national issues were discussed with audiences representing the 
full range of interest groups. The objective was simple: to let all hands know they could expect 
even-handed responses on wilderness, grazing administration, coal leasing, and other con- 
troversies. The strategy worked: even at the height of Sagebrush Rebellion oratory, commu- 
nications with public land users and their political allies were easy and open. 

At headquarters, BLM was reorganized and partially restaffed to provide a focal point for 
both renewable and nonrenewable resources, and to sharpen policy analysis and advocacy 
skills essential in a Washington office. Winning a few early battles (notably delegating 
approval of land use plans and related EISs to State Directors) helped restore the Bureau's 
role in Departmental policy councils. State Directors were made key players in Bureau policy 
deliberations through carefully planned and staffed meetings on program policy issues. 

Progress in major programs was substantial. A new coal leasing program and EIS were 
formulated; leasing was resumed in 1980 without legal challenge. A "principled" (my word) 
approach to the westwide wilderness review specified in FLPMA was scrupulously objective 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 

in initial stages, to avoid demand for repeated reviews. Wildlife programs were sharply 
strengthened, a priority dating back to my early years in Colorado. 

A coalition of user groups helped enact the Public Rangelands Improvement Act of 1978 
around a common interest in increased funding for improving rangeland condition, and came 
close to agreement on processes for making decisions about livestock grazing use in response 
to court-ordered grazing EISs. A Special Projects Office helped meet urgent schedules for 
siting energy facilities. OCS leasing was expanded in new frontier areas with careful concern 
for environmental and social impacts. The California Desert Plan was completed with the 
help of a strong citizens' advisory committee, and withstood early challenges from a new 
administration. A network of regulations for implementing FLPMA emerged. The first-ever 
regulations on surface effects of hardrock mining took effect. 

BLM's progress toward establishing itself as a strong, stable institution of career natural 
resource professionals was mixed. While the policy and budget priorities of the Carter 
Administration were supportive and congressional leadership was exemplary, images and 
perceptions of the Bureau were as often diminished as enhanced by the administration and 
diminished further by the vehemence of attacks in the 1980 campaign and immediately 
thereafter by supporters and officials of the new administration. 

President Carter's zeal to reorganize, including a proposal to convert Interior into a 
Department of Natural Resources incorporating the Forest Service, was the root of serious 
damage to BLM. White House reorganization strategists sought to win FS support by 
downgrading BLM's competence and integrity, and promising to consolidate the two land 
systems under FS leadership. Even the Secretary occasionally joined in this forlorn tactic. 

BLM and other federal land agencies were also pawns in a federal-state water controversy. 
Field offices were accused (inaccurately) by some western water leaders of planning to claim 
vast quantities in the process of filing under state law for water rights for land management. 
Casual examination would have shown the amounts claimed to be modest indeed. But the 
administration's public response took the form of promising to protect western water 
interests from the agencies, instead of pointing to the record. 

The Carter/Andrus record shows increasing support for BLM as time went on. When it 
became obvious that the reorganization would fail, Andrus helped secure support for a 
strengthened BLM in budget and manpower allocations. Andrus came, in his last months, to 
assert a commitment to BLM as the "Best Land Manager" among federal agencies. In 
controversial program areas, such as coal leasing, wilderness review, and livestock grazing, 
his support was unwavering. In his last appearance before Department employees, Andrus 
was moved to tears when he came to comment on his administration's work with BLM. But 
the opportunity to fully capitalize on his support was lost in the change of administration in 

BLM entered the second post-FLPMA administration with modest increases in staff and 
appropriations, stronger support among western governors, the environmental community 
and key leaders in the House, a solid start toward consolidation of basic management systems, 
remarkable progress in specific program areas — and the dubious distinction of serving again 
as a symbol of need for dramatic policy change by a new administration. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


Clean Air Act 



Federal Water 


Control Act 

Clean Water 
Act 0/1977 

BLM's watershed program grew to include additional areas of 
responsibility, including air resource management, in the 1970s. Several 
acts affected the program, but their effects on land management activities 
were not immediately apparent until litigation and court decisions forced 
the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to expand the acts' authorities 
to all areas of the United States. 

The Clean Air Act of 1970 required EPA to establish national primary 
and secondary air quality standards, including standards for new pollution 
and hazardous substance sources. While the initial focus of this act centered 
on automobiles and point-source pollution, many states adopted regulations 
controlling open burning on federal public lands. 

Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) regulations were 
developed under the act following litigation from the Sierra Club in 1975. 
Under these regulations, EPA established three classes of clean air regions 
for the nation: 

Class I - pristine areas where no deterioration was allowed; 

Class II - areas permitted to undergo moderate changes; and 

Class III - areas where development was allowed, up to the secondary 

national standards given in the act. 

The Secretary of the Interior was given the responsibility to designate 
areas for management as Class I areas. Amendments to the act in 1977 
reaffirmed the PSD concept and strengthened its provisions. All national 
parks, monuments, and wilderness areas were designated Class I areas, with 
other public land areas designated Class II; states or the Department, 
however, could reclassify any Class II areas as Class I areas. 

The Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) focused on 
industrial pollution in urban areas and on oil spills. Section 208 of the act, 
however, covered nonpoint pollution sources and required states to develop 
areawide waste management plans. The act also created the Colorado River 
Basin Salinity Control Forum, representing seven basin states, to develop 
numeric criteria for salinity allowed in the Colorado River — much of which 
originated on public lands. In 1974, the Colorado River Basin Salinity 
Control Act authorized construction of four salinity control units in the 
basin and required planning reports be completed in 12 other units. 

Under FWPCA, EPA proposed that forestry and agricultural activities 
be designated as point sources, but withdrew the idea in 1972. NRDC 
successfully sued EPA on this issue in 1975, forcing EPA to develop new 
regulations. Published in 1976, the regulations addressed water pollution 
from forest and range management activities. 

The Clean Water Act of 1977 amended Section 208 of FWPCA to 
mandate statewide planning and authorized cost-sharing programs with 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 

rural landowners to control nonpoint sources through their Soil 
Conservation Districts. The act also exempted road building activities in 
forests from its provisions only if "best management practices" developed 
by BLM and the Forest Service were followed. 

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 provided funds 
to state and local governments to "provide the demonstration, construction, 
and application of solid waste management and resource recovery systems 
which preserve and enhance the quality of air, water and land resources." 
One of the act's provisions called for establishing a national system of 
disposal sites for hazardous wastes, some of which occurred on BLM lands 
(e.g., the Waste Isolation Pilot Project in southeast New Mexico, which 
stores government-produced radioactive wastes). 



and Recovery 

Act of 1976 


BLM's wildlife program continued to grow in the 1970s, reflecting the 
rise in public concern for endangered species and habitat issues for all 
species. The number of wildlife biologists in the Bureau grew to 360 by 
1980, with a program budget of $16 million. In addition to NEPA and 
FLPMA, three acts affected the Bureau's wildlife program. 

The Sikes Act of 1974 promoted federal/state cooperation in managing 
wildlife habitats on both BLM and Forest Service lands. It required BLM 
to work with state wildlife agencies to plan the development and 
maintenance of wildlife habitats, the act's primary tool being the Habitat 
Management Plan (HMP). 

BLM completed its first HMP in 1976 in the Arizona Strip District. By 
1980, BLM signed cooperative agreements with 15 state governments and 
developed 180 HMPs covering 26 million acres of public lands and 1,000 
miles of streams crossing BLM lands. Priority was given to species 
requiring special attention, such as the desert bighorn sheep (whose 
numbers have not recovered in its original range, unlike those of elk, deer, 
and antelope) and endangered species. 

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 provided for the federal listing of 
wildlife threatened with extinction and for the designation of critical habitat 
by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The act required BLM to 
protect endangered species and their habitats, and to consult with FWS on 
activities planned for critical habitats. In addition, the act provided for 
closer working relationships between the agencies in developing recovery 
plans for threatened or endangered species. 

The Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1972 prohibited the poisoning of bald 
or golden eagles, whether intentional or unintentional — causing significant 
changes in the FWS Animal Damage Control program (now in the 
Department of Agriculture) and in the activities of livestock operators on 
public lands. In January 1977, the FWS published guidelines forbidding 
activities resulting in disturbance to the birds. 

Sikes Act of 


Species Act of 



Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


The Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 gave legal status 
to horses and burros on the public lands and required BLM to institute 
programs to protect and manage them. This act was one of the first pieces 
of legislation dealing with particular species and their habitats, specifying 
techniques that could — and couldn't — be used their management. The act 
brought wild horses and burros into BLM's multiple use planning process: 
the Bureau began to allot forage to horses and burros in addition to livestock 
and wildlife. If too many horses or burros occurred in an area, plans were 
written to address how and when they would be removed. Environmental 
assessments were prepared for public review and comment — a far cry from 
the discretion allowed managers in the 1950s and early 1960s. 

Burros in California desert 

The act prohibited all sales or commercial trade in the animals and made 
BLM responsible for its enforcement. The Bureau hired its first special 
agents under the act in 1974. Horses and burro numbers could be controlled, 
however, by moving excess animals to other areas (where they existed prior 
to the act), by humane destruction, or by "adoption" to private citizens. The 
first option was untenable because horse and burro numbers were 
increasing throughout their range. The second, BLM correctly surmised, 
would never be approved on a large scale by the public. 

BLM's only viable alternative was adoption; its first wild horse 
adoption took place in Montana in 1973. Because early efforts proved 
successful and were received with widespread public support, the Bureau 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 

Wild horses in Sand Springs roundup, Vale , Oregon 

implemented a nationwide Adopt- A-Horse program in 1976. By 1980, the 
public had adopted more than 20,000 horses and 2,000 burros through the 

The protection afforded horses and burros under the act allowed for 
rapid increases in their population throughout the West. By 1980, BLM 
estimated that wild horse numbers exceeded 52,000, and burros 12,000, on 
the public lands, with some herds growing by 15 to 20 percent each year. 

BLM found itself facing a whole new array of problems. In January 
1976, animal unit months for livestock grazing were reduced in the Burns 
District (Oregon) in response to reductions in forage caused by wild horses 
in the area. A cattleman affected by this reduction filed a claim for damages 
with the Interior Department but was not successful. New Mexico 
challenged the act's constitutionality, claiming it violated the state's right 
to manage wildlife within its borders. Initially found unconstitutional, the 
act was later upheld by the Supreme Court, which decided the federal 
government had authority to manage horses — and other wildlife species — 
on the public lands. 

Until 1971, most land-managing agencies thought that the National 
Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA) applied only to nonfederal 
cultural resources affected by federally aided construction such as 



Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

highways, dams, and urban renewal projects. By issuing Executive Order 
1 1593, President Nixon informed federal land-managing agencies that they 
too were obliged to protect cultural resources. Executive Order 11593 
required agencies to inventory and evaluate all significant cultural 
resources under their jurisdiction within 2 years — an impossible task for an 
agency managing 500 million acres of land — and to protect them from 
inadvertent harm. Expanding its ability to assist State Offices, the BLM 
Service Center added a historian and a second archaeologist to its staff. 







-r J 






i3T %*& ^ 'i 

Archaeological site, Granary with two types periods of construction in Moab 
District, Utah 

Detailed NHPA regulations were published by the Advisory Council on 
Historic Preservation in 1974. In response, BLM State Offices and a few 
Districts were staffed with cultural resource specialists by the end of fiscal 
year 1974; most other Districts were staffed in 1975, and most Resource 
Areas by 1977. Alden Sievers of the Washington Office's recreation staff 
began laying the foundations for a cultural resources program in 1974. Rick 
Hanks, archaeologist for the California Desert planning staff, served as 
program leader from 1976 to 1980, establishing the planning-based 
structure that continues to shape the program. 

Cultural specialists in the field were primarily responsible for 
inventories needed for land use plans or for proposed projects such as right- 
of-way applications, range improvements, mineral development, and other 
actions. Because locations were chosen for resource or engineering reasons, 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 

these new specialists visited places where 
archaeologists had never thought about going, 
"finding an unanticipated wealth of archaeological 
and historic resources of kinds never before described 
or interpreted," according to John Douglas, current 
program leader in the Washington Office. 

It soon became evident that BLM lands held an 
abundance of cultural resources, estimated in 1977 at 
500,000 properties. Rapidly accumulating survey data 
bumped that estimate upward — to as many as 3 to 5 
million — according to Douglas, who stated that "acre 
for acre, no other agency approaches the number, 
variety, and importance of BLM' s cultural resources." 

FLPMA reemphasized Executive Order 11593's 
message, naming cultural resources among the 
Bureau's multiple use responsibilities and focusing on 
the role of inventory in planning and management. The 
1970s closed with the passage of another important 
statute, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act 
of 1979 (ARPA). Its predecessor, the Antiquities Act 
of 1 906, had been disabled as a criminal statute in most 
of the West by a 1974 ruling in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. ARPA 
resolved the Court issue, boosting the Antiquities Act's misdemeanor 
offenses to felonies; it also prohibited trafficking and possession in addition 
to unauthorized excavation and removal, to address dealers and collectors 
as well as diggers. 

By the end of the decade, BLM had the authority and much of the 
capability needed to protect its huge reserve of cultural resources from 
conflicts generated by legitimate land use activities on the one hand, and 
from illegal depredation on the other. Both of those concerns, however, 
were almost purely reactive. What was lacking, according to Douglas, was 
the ability to get out ahead of Section 106 compliance — and artifact 
hunters — to determine, for the resources' own sake, how they should be 
managed over the long term. This became the program's main task in the 

Pictograph used as a target by 
irresponsible public, Moab, Utah 


Recreation on the public lands rose steadily during the 1970s, 
approaching 50 million visitor-use days each year. By 1972, the Bureau 
hired an additional 30 outdoor recreation planners on the ground so that 
virtually all District Offices were staffed with these positions. 

By the mid-1970s, BLM was maintaining more than 400 developed 
recreation sites on the public lands, with an annual budget averaging $5 
million for recreation management, $3 million for site maintenance, and $1 
million for recreation construction. For America's Bicentennial in 1976, 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

The start of a hare and hound race over approximately a 150 mile course, Little Rock Area, 

BLM built interpretive facilities along the Oregon, Pony Express, and 
Dominquez-Escalante Trails. In 1978, the Land and Water Conservation 
Fund Act was amended by Congress to authorize an increase in its base 
funds to $900 million annually. 


Section 603 of FLPMA set up BLM's wilderness review process. 
Within 15 years the Secretary was to review roadless areas or "islands" of 
5,000 acres or more on the public lands identified during a prescribed 
inventory process (Section 201) as having wilderness characteristics 
described in the Wilderness Act of 1964 and to "report to the President his 
recommendation as to the suitability or nonsuitability of each such area or 
island for preservation as wilderness." 

BLM established a review process consisting of three phases: 
inventory, study, and reporting to Congress. During the inventory phase, 
BLM identified wilderness study areas (WSAs) after asking for public 
participation and review of its work. The inventory, completed in 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 

November 1980 in the lower 48 states, identified more than 24 million acres 
of public lands as WSAs and eliminated approximately 150 million acres 
from further consideration. 

Outdoor recreation planners were given the primary task of 
inventorying and identifying wilderness study areas on the public lands. 
Each WSA was then studied — or is now being studied — by all Bureau 
programs and the public, through BLM's planning system, to consider all 
values, resources, and uses within the area. The findings of these studies 
have determined or will determine whether the areas should be 
recommended for designation as wilderness. Reports on all WSAs must 
reach the President no later than October 1991 and Congress by October 
1993. Mineral surveys will be conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and 
Bureau of Mines for areas recommended as suitable. 


The Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 directed the Executive 
Branch to make more effective use of its boards, setting up criteria for the 
creation, supervision, and operation of advisory boards. Section 14 of the 
act required that BLM's boards be specifically renewed by the Secretary of 
the Interior. 

In response to this act, BLM realigned membership on the National 
Advisory Board Council; livestock members were reduced from 20 to 10 
and wildlife interests from 10 to 6. Representatives of other groups 
increased — three for outdoor recreation, and one each for forestry, 
environmental quality, mining, county and state governments, leasable 
minerals, and public utilities. 

BLM retained its tri-level advisory board system (national, state and 
district). State and O&C multiple use advisory boards were continued, 
while District grazing advisory boards were supplemented with multiple 
use advisory boards at the field level. Grazing advisory boards were 
extended by FLPMA for 10 years to advise Districts on AMPs and range 
improvement funds. 

Anyone who doubts the significance of NEPA's impacts on BLM 
should examine the Bureau's range program in the 1970s. Range conditions 
on public land were attracting criticism from environmental groups and 
national attention from the news media. Readers Digest published an article 
on overgrazing, "Nibbling Away at the West," in 1971 and National 
Geographic carried a story on the plight of bighorn sheep in Challis, Idaho 
in 1973. 

BLM was well aware of its requirements under NEPA to examine the 
impacts of significant actions on the environment, including those of its 
range program. By 1972, the Bureau decided to examine national impacts 
and policies in a programmatic statement. Probably another reason for 
choosing this approach was that BLM simply didn't have enough range 
employees or forage inventory data collected to prepare site-specific EISs. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by Frank Gregg 

With the passage of FLPMA in 1976, BLM had reason to hope for a period of stability, a 
window of opportunity to concentrate on refinement of multiple use management systems for 
the public lands. It didn't work out that way. On the contrary, the years immediately after 
FLPMA were arguably among the most politically volatile in public land history. 

FLPMA itself precipitated controversy. The Act gave environmental and recreation interests 
a position of legal equality with the historically dominant commodity uses of mining, 
grazing, oil and gas, Umber. Decisions about the use of specific public land areas were to be 
based on land use plans and environmental impact statements prepared with public partici- 
pation. All roadless areas were to be reviewed for potential designation and protection as 
wilderness. Concerns of resource development interests were heightened by the candid 
commitment of the Carter Administration to environmental goals, and by the public 
environmental records of Secretary of the Interior Cecil Andrus, Assistant Secretary Guy 
Martin, and me. 

Beyond these changes, commodity programs Bureauwide were being examined under the 
glare of EISs in response to NEPA lawsuits brought by environmental organizations. 
Livestock grazers were faced with examination of grazing effects on public lands through a 
series of 144 site-specific EIS s . Coal leasing had been enjoined under a NEPA suit in the early 
seventies. The Carter Administration rejected a proposed Nixon/Ford leasing program and 
set out to develop its own, with enthusiastic commitments to use of the new Surface Mining 
Control and Reclamation Act as well as the land use planning and public participation 
requirements of FLPMA. Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas development was facing new 
rules under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act Amendments of 1977, inspired largely by 
environmental concerns. Timber harvest in the "O&C" lands was being addressed in yet 
another series of EISs. 

The stage was set for a concerted reaction by resource development interests and their 
political supporters. Controversies escalated in specific programs. Eventually, three Nevada 
BLM livestock permittees who were also state legislators developed a legal and political 
argument that die federal lands properly belong to the western states as a matter of 
constitutional law. While originally launched to stimulate political opposition to livestock 
grazing reductions, the proposal struck a responsive chord among sectors of western society 
who opposed the environmental laws and policies of the era (and the intrusive presence of 
the federal government generally). The proposal became a movement, and soon attracted 
national attention as the Sagebrush Rebellion. 

The immediate post-FLPMA years were therefore anything but a period of steady movement 
toward a stable system for managing the public lands. Instead, BLM faced the combined 
challenges of formal implementation of FLPMA, meeting the deadlines for preparation of 
EISs covering major programs such as coal leasing and livestock grazing, and carrying on the 
day-to-day tasks of working with public land users and resources. 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 




The Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) sued BLM over its 
choice in 1973, asserting that the act of issuing grazing permits and licenses 
locally constituted significant federal actions and therefore required locally NRDC Suit 
prepared EISs to determine potential impacts. The courts agreed in October 
1973 and directed the Interior Department and NRDC to reach agreement 
on what level EISs would be produced in the field. 

Interior Department solicitors reached an agreement with NRDC 
whereby BLM would prepare 212 statements in the field, covering 150 
million acres of public lands over the following 15 years (by 1988). Challis, 
Idaho was selected as BLM's first site-specific EIS, because of its complex 
mix of resources and land uses. A final EIS was completed for the area and 
filed with the Council on Environmental Quality in 1976. 

Along with its environmental impact statements, BLM prepared 
Allotment Management Plans (AMPs) in cooperation with individual 
ranchers. AMPs proposed plans of action for specific areas and specified 
seasons of use, livestock numbers, and range improvements. The EISs and 
AMPs considered the needs of wildlife, wild horses and burros, plus the 
impacts of other land uses (e.g., ORV and mining uses), furthering the 
Bureau's examination of resources in a multiple-use context. Management 
alternatives in the statements consisted of anything from implementing 
AMPs (which often required overall reductions in livestock numbers or 
grazing deferments), to maintaining status quo, to eliminating grazing. 
Most EISs, however, adopted the AMP alternatives proposed. 

In the late 1970s, this arrangement broke down. NRDC criticized 
BLM's policy of preparing AMPs at the same time EISs were written, 
arguing that current forage resources needed to be inventoried beforehand. 
Many livestock operators complained that AMPs were being developed 
without considering the needs of operators to effectively manage livestock. 
In 1978, the Public Rangeland Improvement Act specified that AMPs be 
developed "in careful and considered consultation, cooperation and 
coordination" with the lessees, permittees, and landowners involved, along 
with district and state grazing advisory boards. BLM began to collect 
extensive forage inventories before writing grazing EISs, with AMPs and 
other activity plans being written after the overall plan was adopted. 

In the 1970s, increases in grazing fees were phased in to meet the base 
fee of $1.23 per AUM established by the BLM and Forest Service 
interagency study of 1968. Grazing fees on BLM lands in 1971 were 64 Grazing Fees 
cents per AUM. In 1972 increases in the fee were limited to 3 percent in 
response to President Nixon's Economic Stabilization Program. This fee 
rose to $1.00 in 1974 and $1.51 in 1976, the result of delayed annual 
increments plus inflation. 

FLPMA also readjusted the distribution of grazing fee funds, with 50 
percent going towards range improvements (at least half of which had to be 
spent in the district where it was collected). Congress showed an interesting 
reaction to NRDC's suit on BLM's grazing EIS by exempting range 
improvement funds from NEPA requirements. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

BLM Grazing Fees 


Animal Unit Month Fee 





















Fiscal Year 

Grazing revenues 1971-1980 



One of the last-minute compromises made to get FLPMA passed was 
a requirement for BLM and the Forest Service to undertake another study 
of grazing fees. In 1978, Congress legislatively set a new grazing fee 
formula in the Public Rangelands Improvement Act (PRIA), basing it on a 
combination of fair market value, beef prices, and production costs. Under 
this formula, grazing fees rose to $2.36 per AUM by 1980. PRIA authorized 
the expenditure of $365 million on rangeland improvements over a 20-year 
period (in addition to the 50 percent of grazing fee funds targeted for range 
improvements), but funds were never appropriated. 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 


BLM prepared a programmatic environmental impact statement for its 
forestry program in 1975. Within a year, NRDC challenged the adequacy 
of BLM's statement. Settlement of the lawsuit required the Bureau to 
prepare environmental impact statements on each of 13 Sustained Yield 
Units in western Oregon, plus one each in northern California and northern 
Idaho. Timber management plans were updated simultaneously with the 
EISs starting in 1978, with the process completed in 1983. 

The use of pesticides and herbicides on forested lands became a major 
issue for BLM in the 1970s. In June 1970, Secretary Hickel established a 
policy permanently banning the use of 16 pesticides (including DDT and 
2,4,5-T) on any lands managed by the Department. Another group of 
pesticides were placed on a "Restricted List," to be used "only when 
nonchemical techniques have been considered and found inadequate, and 
when use can be limited to small-scale applications." 

In 1976, a federal court in Oregon ruled that the Forest Service must 
prepare an EIS analyzing its vegetation management practices with 
herbicides. Because the Bureau's program was similar, BLM also stopped 
using herbicides in western Oregon until it completed an EIS in 1979. On 
March 15, 1979, Secretary Andrus decided to continue the use of herbicides 
in Oregon. In a memo implementing BLM's herbicide program, however, 
Director Frank Gregg stated "ongoing efforts to learn more about 
nonchemical methods of vegetation management.. .should be continued 
and, I believe, stepped up so that we will become increasingly confident and 
knowledgeable in their usefulness." 

Both O&C and public domain forest management emerged in the 1970s 
as multidisciplinary programs involving coordination with recreation, 
wildlife, grazing, watershed, and cultural resource programs. BLM 
received additional funding for inventories of commercial forest resources 
outside the O&C lands. The BLM Service Center in Denver developed a 




and Pesticides 



-I 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1- 

1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 

Fiscal Year 

Timber revenues 1971-1980 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


computer model for calculating allowable cuts within sustainable harvest 
levels in all public domain forestry districts with commercial timber, and 
each district was staffed with at least one forester. 

While recognizing that 20 million acres of forested lands were 
incapable of producing commercial sawtimber, BLM estimated that they 
contained 200 million cords of wood, or the energy equivalent of 32 billion 
gallons of fuel oil. Demand for fuelwood from BLM lands for both 
individual consumption and commercial resale paralleled rising energy 
prices. In fiscal year 1972, BLM granted about 3,500 free use permits for 
fuelwood, totaling about 5 million board feet. By 1980, BLM issued 10 
times as many permits for more than 50 million board feet of wood. 


During the 1970s, the National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, 
and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service joined BLM, the Forest Service, and 
National Weather Service in supporting the Boise Interagency Fire Center 
(BIFC). In 1973 the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) was 
created to develop standards for training, equipment, and aircraft, as well as 
a system for determining fire priorities. BIFC's mission evolved to provide 
logistical support to ongoing fires, while NWCG worked on overall fire 
planning and training. In 1974, the Forest Service's fire training center at 
Marana, Arizona became interagency and national in scope. 

Snake River Valley crews training east of John Day, Oregon. 

BIFC had a major role in testing and developing firefighting equipment, 
including the Bell 214 helicopter. In 1974, BIFC tested an 8-wheel-drive 
all-terrain vehicle, the "dragon wagon," at BLM's Carson City District; the 
experimental vehicle logged 7,000 miles at 25 fires but proved expensive 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 


by Louise Power 
Oregon State Office 

"Are you here to cook?" 

"Not that I know of." 

"Then what are you here for?" 

"To fight fire!" 

This conversation was not uncommon in the mid-70s 
when women first began fighting wildland fires. Prior 
to that time, few if any women had been seen on the 

Because few women were in the field then, separate 
accommodations could not be made for such ameni- 
ties as bathing. Sometimes, to avoid putting on a show 
for the whole camp, many women would bathe at 
mealtime-foregoing eating for bathing. 

Melody Asher updates ADM Hal 
By bee on status of fire. 

Melody Asher, a former fine arts major, is beginning her 12th season as a firefighter, her 8th 
as an engine foreman. "I had never heard of firefighting until I met Michael and that's what 
he did." Michael McBride, her husband, is helitack foreman for the Ely District, and one of 
Asher' s staunchest supporters. 

Asher is no stranger to the rigors of firefighting. She began as the only woman on a 20-man 
crew with the Colorado State Forest Service. Her first fire was, at the time, one of the largest 
in the history of Colorado-more than 4,000 acres. For 9 days, the crew dug line only to watch 
as the fire jumped it with whorls up to 300 feet high. "It's really hard if you're building line 
16 hours a day. At the end of the day, your hands are just curled-they don't unbend. You 
have to take one hand and unfold the other hand. And then the fire just roars in and you have 
to run and sit on a knoll and watch it jump your line." On this fire Asher learned to respect 
fire and the fire organization at work. 

Asher is now the ICMR (Incident Commander, Multi-Resource) on the Ely District. She is 
basically the field commander for major fires. She sizes up fires; determines what personnel, 
equipment and support will be needed; directs the firefighting operation; keeps dispatch 
informed of progress; and, in the end, does the paperwork. 

She has not achieved this unique position without years of hard work and study. In addition, 
Asher has taken supervisory courses culminating this past year in a situation unit leader 
course which will allow her to perform on larger project fires the work she already does on 
district fires. 

When asked about her proudest accomplishment, she is quick to say that it is attaining her 
current position. When asked why, she answers: "I enjoy having the big fires on my 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 



E 1-0 




H] Alaska 
g3 Total 




1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 

Calendar Year 

Public lands burned 1971-1980 

to operate and maintain. BIFC eventually acquired the smaller and more 
maneuverable "Unimog" for use in fire suppression. 

The year 1977 was a big fire year. More than 10,000 fires burned over 
2 million acres in the West. California's fire season lasted from January to 
September, costing $400 million. BLM continued to rely on helicopters for 
most of its suppression activities. 

In the mid-1970s BIFC, the BLM Service Center, and the University of 
Arizona developed the Automatic Lightning Detection System (ALDS). 
Tested in Alaska, it was up and working in the 1 1 western states by 1978. 
The system recorded nearly every lightning bolt striking the ground, giving 
fire managers an early warning system in areas with high fire danger. 

But BLM soon found itself flooded with more data than it could handle. 
The Bureau then began working on a system that would translate lightning 
strike information into probabilities for starting fires and combine this with 
climatological information to predict which fires were most likely to 
spread. BIFC and BLM field offices began using remote automated weather 
stations (RAWS) to obtain meteorological information. A new system, the 
Initial Attack Management System (IAMS), integrated ALDS and RAWS 
data and was ready for field use by 1981. 

By the late 1970s, federal land managing agencies began to recognize 
the values of fire in natural ecosystems. Fire policies began to shift from 
control to management: prescribed burning came to be recognized as a 
management tool. In 1977, BLM's Diablo Resource Area in California 
recommended the use of a controlled burn in its Management Framework 
Plan to improve wildlife habitat and livestock forage, and to reduce fire fuel 
accumulations adjacent to Pinnacles National Monument. In 1979, 3,000 
acres were burned in a successful test of this management technique. 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 


Automation has been used in the Bureau since the mid-1950s, when the 
Oregon State Office leased IBM computers to develop timber appraisals for 
its O&C Districts. By the mid-1970s, automated data processing systems 
and equipment were in use throughout the Bureau, making much of its work 
more efficient. However, few standards or guidelines governed the use of 
information systems or computer equipment; the growth of automated data 
processing (ADP) in BLM was at first haphazard and unplanned. Data was 
rarely shared or exchanged among systems, but BLM was beginning to 
recognize the need for managing its information on a Bureauwide basis — 
a process begun in the 1970s at the BLM Service Center and implemented 
in the field in the 1980s. 

In 1960, automation in the Nevada State Office consisted of a 
Burrough's bookkeeping machine. However, BLM soon began to use 
Forest Service and Bureau of Public Roads computers to help design roads 
and bridges. Most early efforts in automation involved borrowed 
equipment and focused on administrative systems, but they served to build 
an understanding of automation that served the Bureau well as time went on. 

Computers soon came to be used for cadastral survey computations in 
Alaska, which led to the purchase of BLM's first computer in 1966 — one 
that could be hauled in a plane and used in field camps. In 1968, a larger 
computer was installed in Anchorage to support cadastral surveys and help 
design the Alaska pipeline. At about the same time, BLM consolidated 
financial accounting in Denver, requiring the acquisition of a mainframe 
computer at the Service Center. 

In 1976, the Service Center's Division of Standards and Technology 
developed a "Strategic Plan for Information Systems," to plan for data 
automation in a systematic manner. The Division started developing a Data 
Element Dictionary to establish common terminology among Bureau 
offices and began to look into the possibility of sharing inventory 
information among natural resource programs. The strategic plan guided 
the development of most automated systems in place in the Bureau today, 
building a foundation for standardization and data exchange between 

In 1978 a Honeywell mainframe computer was installed at the BLM 
Service Center, giving the Bureau the capabilities it needed for agency wide 
communications and data base management. By July 1978, BLM's 
centrally stored and processed mining claim recordation system was 
operating in all BLM states except Alaska. Because of an increased demand 
for automated systems by field offices, BLM installed Honeywell 
minicomputers in 1979 in all of its State Offices. 

BLM was also busy developing prototype land and resource 
information systems in the 1970s. The Bureau's first automated land 
records system appeared in Alaska in 1975, which served as a precursor to 
today's Bureauwide Land Information System. A graphics system for 

Early Uses of 







Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

resource information analysis and display, the Map Overlay and Statistical 
System (MOSS), was put together at the BLM Service Center in 1977 for 
use on new Data General equipment. The graphics system was used to help 
prepare the California Desert Plan, and later to prepare a study of birds of 
prey in Idaho and oil shale in Colorado. The system could create and overlay 
any number of resource data themes (e.g., wildlife habitats, rivers, roads, 
and forested areas) to identify potential uses and conflicts during the 
planning process. Also in 1977, the Service Center added remote sensing 
and high-altitude photography to the skills it provided the field. 


BLM experienced its greatest growth during the 1970s. The National 
Environmental Policy Act ushered in an entirely new way of evaluating 
major federal actions; environmental statements and assessments greatly 
increased the Bureau's workload. Wild horses and burros on the public 
lands were afforded new protection, with specific management techniques 
prescribed by Congress. A host of new studies and legislation on mineral 
leasing; regulations on soil, air, and water resources; and final decisions on 
Alaska lands significantly expanded the Bureau's work. 

New programs and employees appeared as BLM's management 
responsibilities grew. Multiple use management of the public lands was 
formally recognized by Congress in 1976 through passage of the Federal 
Land Policy and Management Act. FLPMA repealed outdated settlement 
acts and provided for the retention of most BLM lands in federal ownership; 
public lands were to be managed for a variety of uses as determined through 
a comprehensive land use planning system. FLPMA also recognized areas 
of critical environmental concern and other lands requiring special 
management and directed BLM to review its holdings for wilderness 

BLM was now positioned to look at more efficient management of the 
public lands. In the 1980s, BLM would begin to integrate its land and 
mineral records with information it maintained on natural resources, tying 
all this to specific locations through survey coordinates generated from the 
Public Land Survey System. According to Service Center Director Bob 
Moore, the development of the Bureau's Land Information System in the 
1980s would come to have the same far-reaching effects on BLM that 
implementation of the Bureau's land use planning system did in the 1970s. 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 

Bureau of Land Management 


Employees 1000C 

8.000 - 

« 6.000 - 



| 4.000 - 

2.000 - 

1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 

Fiscal Year 

Budget 60 °" 

° 550- 



•J 400- 


J 350- 






| 200- 


X 150- 



50 - 

1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 

Fiscal Year 

Revenues 800 ° ". 

7.000 - 


6.000 " 

/ \ 

J 5.000 - 

/ \ 

£• 4.000 - 


/ \——-—^' 

2 3,000 - 



£ 2,000 - 


1.000 - 


1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 


Directors Burton Silcock 1971-1973 

Curt Berklund 1973-1977 

Frank Gregg 1978-1981 

Major Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act 1971 

Legislation Wild and Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act 1971 

Federal Land Policy and Management Act 1976 

Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act 1980 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


Samuel T. Dana and Sally K. Fairfax look at BLM administration of the 
public lands into the late 1970s in Forest and Range Policy: Its 
Development in the United States, Second Edition (1980), as does Marion 
Clawson in The Federal Lands Revisited (1983). Though it has little 
discussion of BLM itself, Striking A Balance: Environment and Natural 
Resources Policy in the Nixon-Ford Years (1976) by John Whitaker 
provides a broad-brush review of the first half of the decade. Paul Wallace 
Gates in his Pressure Groups and Recent American Land Policies (1980) 
is worthwhile reading. The best focus on BLM and the public lands in the 
1970s is William Wyant's Westward in Eden (1982). 

On the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, see Irving 
Senzel's "Genesis of a Law," in American Forests, Vol. 84 (January and 
February 1978) and the 1979 Arizona Law Review with various articles on 

Marion Clawson's The Bureau of Land Management (1971) provides 
insight into the structure and operation of the Bureau at the beginning of the 
Nixon years. Better yet is Paul J. Culhane's Public Land Politics: Interest 
Group Influence on the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management 

A compilation of articles on various aspects of public land management 
is presented in the Soil Conservation Society's National Land Use Policy: 
Objectives, Components, and Implementation (1972). 

Range policy and management issues are discussed in the National 
Research Council and National Academy of Sciences' massive Developing 
Strategies for Rangeland Management (1984). Of particular interest in this 
compilation is Sally K. Fairfax's "Legal and Political Aspects of Range 
Management: Summary and Recommendations" and her "Coming of Age 
in the Bureau of Land Management: Range Management in Search of a 

Elmo Richardson's BLM's Billion-Dollar Checkerboard: Managing 
the O&C Lands (1980) handles O&C issues into this decade. Stephen J. 
Pyne's Fire in America: A Cultural History ofWildland and Rural Fire 
(1982) covers fire program developments into the 1970s. 

Mineral policy and development are taken up by Carl Mayer and 
George Riley in Public Domain — Private Dominion: A History of Public 
Mineral Policy in America (1985). Coal leasing policy is handled by Robert 
Nelson in his The Making of Federal Coal Policy (1983). On the problems 
of the 1970s energy boom, see The Angry West: A Vulnerable Land and Its 
Future (1982) by Richard Lamb and Michael McCarthy. 

On the wilderness issue, Roderick Nash's Wilderness and the American 
Mind (1982) is mandatory reading. The wild horse issue is handled by 
Heather Smith Thomas, The Wild Horse Controversy (1979) and Richard 
Symanski, Wild Horses and Sacred Cows (1985). 


An Agency With A Mission: The 1970s 

Gary Stein discusses the Alaska state land selection program in 
"Promised Land" : A History of Alaska's Selection of Its Congressional 
Land Grants (1987). See the Alaska Native Land Claims (1978) by Robert 
Arnold et al. for information on the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. 

On the Sagebrush Rebellion, see appropriate portions of The Angry 
West: A Vulnerable Land and Its Future (1982) by Richard Lamm and 
Michael McCarthy and Robert Nelson's Making Sense of the Sagebrush 
Rebellion: A Long Term Strategy for the Public Lands (1981). 




The 1980s 

There's no pressure like multiple use pressure. 

— George Turcott 

Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

The 1980s 


In the 1980s, the Bureau of Land Management consolidated the 
legislative gains it had made in previous decades and implemented 
cooperative resource management programs with land users in the field. A 
legislative mandate for multiple use management of the public lands was in 
place. Now the Bureau's challenge was to apply its authorities wisely and 
appropriately. According to former Assistant Director Irving Senzel, 
"Adequate law facilitates effective management, but does not guarantee it." 
How BLM implemented its mandates in the field was crucial to its goal of 
effective land management. 

Director Robert F. Burford continued to decentralize Bureau operations 
to the field and implemented a "good neighbor" program intended to 
improve relations with local land users and state governments. BLM 
streamlined its regulations, inviting land users to increase their 
participation in managing the public lands. The use of cooperative 
agreements was expanded to get land users actively involved in solving 
resource management problems. In addition, the Bureau expanded its use 
of volunteers, whose contributions in funds and labor totalled $7.5 million 
in 1987. With these efforts, attempts to privatize the public lands in the 
Sagebrush Rebellion came to a close. 

Although BLM transferred its responsibilities for managing offshore 
minerals to the Minerals Management Service in 1982, onshore functions 
were consolidated with the Bureau a year later. Federal responsibilities for 
classifying onshore mineral lands, overseeing exploration and 
development activities, and inspecting field operations were consolidated 
for the first time. BLM began to manage mineral resources on an equal 
footing with renewable resources. 

The Bureau's planning system became a reliable tool for examining 
land uses and resource issues together, allowing both managers and users 
to participate in the decisionmaking process. While the participants in 
BLM's planning process — both inside and outside the Bureau — did not 
always agree on the Bureau's management priorities, at least they came to 
understand the system and their roles in it. BLM encouraged participants in 
the process to develop resource partnerships in a multiple use context rather 
than advocating preservation or development of separate resources. 

The nation's change to an information society, together with increasing 
demands on public lands and resources, provided BLM a new challenge in 
the 1980s. The Bureau's rapid growth over the last four decades included 
massive increases in the information it maintained. Just managing this data 
and creating meaningful summaries — for both land managers and the 
public — proved to be difficult. In the 1980s, BLM recognized its data was 
a significant national asset and began to develop an automated Land 
Information System. The Bureau began to modernize its ADP equipment, 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 

standardize its data, and integrate its information systems to more 
efficiently process its workload and to make its information on federal land 
and mineral resources more readily available to the public. 

Except for the transfer of 800 employees from the Minerals 
Management Service in early 1983, the number of Bureau employees 
remained fairly constant in the 1980s, as did its budgets. But in some 
programs, budgets actually declined for the first time in 40 years. To ensure 
that BLM accomplished its management objectives and fairly allocated its 
budgets, Director Burford strengthened the role of BLM's Management 
Team in overseeing Bureauwide program development and 
implementation. The "BMT," consisting of Associate Directors in 
Washington, State Directors, and the Directors of the Boise Interagency 
Fire Center (BIFC) and the BLM Service Center, has since played a major 
role in identifying present needs and future priorities. 

Burford also asked several veteran State Directors to serve as Associate 
Directors in Washington "because people with recent field experience are 
often the best advisors, especially in top management." According to 
Burford, it was critical that the Bureau have State Directors rotate to 
headquarters "to help whoever sits in the Director's chair and the Assistant 
Secretary's office understand how their decisions affect day-to-day 
management of the public lands." 





In 1979, the Nevada Assembly passed a bill that called for state control 
of BLM lands. Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming passed similar 
legislation within a year. Six other western states (California, Colorado, 
Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and South Dakota), however, defeated or vetoed 
"Sagebrush" bills. During the 1980 Presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan 
said "Count me in as a Sagebrush Rebel," but by 1981 the issue had almost 

According to historian Phillip Foss, the "good neighbor" policy of 
Secretary James Watt helped defuse the rebellion. Traditional public land 
users — ranchers and mineral interests — were assured they would have a 
continued presence on the public lands and be included with other interests 
in cooperative efforts to develop land use plans. But the idea of privatization 
of federal assets remained. In 1981, Senator Charles Percy of Illinois 
introduced S.R. 231 asking the federal government to sell off excess lands 
and properties to reduce the national debt. On February 25, 1982, President 
Reagan issued Executive Order 12348 establishing a property review board 
to identify federal assets no longer needed by the government. Included 
were buildings and other "real property," plus isolated, scattered tracts of 
the public lands. 

A governmentwide "Asset Management" program was established to 
dispose of these holdings. Although it was not a new idea (disposal of 




Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

scattered, isolated tracts of public land was common in the 1950s and 
1960s), the program generated a great deal of controversy. Many agencies 
argued that excess properties identified under the program might be needed 
under federal ownership in the future. Conservation groups distrusted the 
Interior Department's motives in disposing of federal lands and criticized 
what they perceived as the program's broad scope. Most BLM land users, 
when confronted with the prospect of purchasing land at fair market value, 
found they preferred that the lands remain in public ownership. 

Since the Asset Management program never generated broad support 
from the public and was not tied to ongoing Bureau initiatives — such as 
BLM land exchange programs — the effort was abandoned during President 
Reagan's first term in office. The idea of forming more logical management 
units on the ground, however, found widespread support; BLM's land 
exchanges grew in importance. 


by Clair M. Whitlock 
Former State Director, Arizona and Idaho 

Looking back at my 32 years with the Bureau of Land 
Management, I am impressed with the ever-changing pat- 
terns or mosaics of activities which make BLM a unique 
organization. These mosaics are really problems and oppor- 
tunities bound together by a rich history, politics, the law, and 
the traditional can-do attitude of BLM's people. 

The Bureau's problems and opportunities consist of its basic 
mission as prescribed by law and regulation, overlaid by 
initiatives of the current administration or some outside 
entity. Perhaps State Directors' most significant role is to 
provide an interface between field workers and the politicos, 
inside Interior as well as user groups or the public at large. 

Clair M. Whitlock 

The first half of the 1980s had a pattern that was different but typical in complexity of most 
any 5-year period in BLM's history. Traditional work levels and complexities were affected 
by administration initiatives such as Asset Management (sale of public land to reduce the 
national debt), the BLM/FS Interchange, and searches for ways to increase ranchers' active 
participation in managing the range resource. Conveyance of in-lieu selections to the states 
was pushed to high visibility by state governments and concurred in by both the Carter and 
Reagan Administrations. 

Occupancy trespass abatement on the Lower Colorado River was a priority job dating from 
the 1960s. It was just wrapping up during the transition from Carter to Reagan. Wilderness 
study was a new program mandated by FLPMA which had drastically different directions 
under the two administrations. My role as State Director in this political interface was two- 
fold: First, legitimize administration initiatives and policies with the field personnel who 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 


Consolidating federal land ownership and management among 
agencies has been a recurring theme on the public lands. When President 
Carter's proposal for creating a Department of Natural Resources was Service 

abandoned, the BLM and Forest Service in May 1980 proposed a interchange 
"Jurisdictional Transfer Program" to consolidate their lands into larger 
blocks, with the goal of reducing management costs, increasing 
management efficiency, and improving service to the public. The program 
continued through the change in administration, and in 1982 preliminary 
estimates indicated that the program would save the government about $30 
million a year. 

BLM and the Forest Service could not agree on the size or scope of the 
program, however, and in January 1983 suspended work on the program. 
The General Accounting Office studied the program and recommended that 
the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior "resolve the disagreement so 

already had more work than time; second, to report problems and suggestions to the policy 
makers to help smooth the process. 

For example, the Asset Management program seemed to fly in the face of FLPMA, which in 
general prescribed long-term federal ownership of the land. I helped employees understand 
why the program was being advanced — that it was a White House initiative and that we would 
proceed per instructions. I also provided feedback to the administration on the lack of local 
interest (and dollars) to buy the lands, and other impacts. In Idaho this was so volatile an issue 
that several state and county officials used it as an election issue. Asset Management ran its 
course, but not without diverting much time and money from traditional realty programs. 

The Lower Colorado occupancy abatement program was given high priority through several 
administrations. My involvement with the program came when the last trespasses were to be 
settled and the land vacated. The event came at the transition into a new administration whose 
policies shifted to selling some tracts or legitimizing occupancy. I needed to sell field 
managers on establishing a few lifetime estates for hardship cases and convince the 
administration to return the balance of the tracts to public use. 

Keeping BLM's priority work on schedule is a balancing act between traditional and 
legislatively-mandated work, interfaced with politically-motivated programs. Helping field 
workers understand that both are legitimate — and politicos to understand local impacts and 
situations — gave me a lot of satisfaction. 

As members of the Bureau Management Team, State Directors can influence a wide range 
of policy and operational issues. I had the opportunity to present my own ideas and 
suggestions on developing employees to help them reach their potential as either managers 
or technical specialists. With the help of many people, I was able to give new direction to 
the Bureau training program by developing the Careers Program. 

It has been gratifying to work with the motivated and dedicated career workers of BLM — 
to see them produce in the face of great odds and in a small way help them develop into BLM' s 
leaders of tomorrow. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by D. Dean Bibles 
Arizona State Director 

In 1982, the longstanding problem of the federal land debt to the State of Arizona was 
virtually at a standstill. Approximately 4.4 million acres had been owed to Arizona since 
statehood. Under the Navajo-Hopi Relocation Act of 1 980, BLM lands were to be exchanged 
for private lands on behalf of the Indians. BLM was responsible for reimbursing the State of 
Arizona for lands taken by the Bureau of Reclamation to construct the Central Arizona 
Project — a canal to transport water from the Colorado River to the cities of Phoenix and 

On top of all this, the hodgepodge of land patterns that had developed over the years with 
federal, state and private lands intermixed, had created a land manager's nightmare, making 
the lands difficult to manage for their wildlife, recreation, wilderness, cultural, economic and 
other values. 

BLM Arizona's solution to these problems was an aggressive land tenure adjustment 
program. This allowed federal and state agencies and private landowners to block up parcels 
of land, obtain other parcels for special purposes and switch administration of still other 
parcels for logical management patterns. 

Between 1984 and mid- 1988 more than 1 ,700,000 acres had been exchanged, transferred, or 
undergone changes of administration, and more changes of tenure were in the works. One 
example of the value of these exchanges was the acquisition by BLM in 1986 of the San Pedro 
River corridor in Southeastern Arizona. The San Pedro area is one of the most significant 
remaining large broadleaf riparian areas left in Arizona. It contains hundreds of wildlife 
species and more than 120 known archaeological sites. Also located in the area is a 200-year- 
old Spanish presidio or military fort — the only one of its kind still in a natural setting. 

Most of the San Pedro River area acquired by BLM was comprised of two Spanish land grants 
dating from 1827. Tenneco West bought the lands in 1971, and by the early 1980s wanted 
to dispose of them. There were strong feelings among environmental groups and others, 
however, about protecting the area from housing developments. And we in BLM saw an 
opportunity to acquire and preserve this prime resource for the American public. White Tanks 
Associates, a Phoenix private land developer, purchased the lands from Tenneco. Then, in 
exchange for the 43,000-acre San Pedro River properties, White Tanks Associates received 
40,947 acres of undeveloped public land west of Phoenix. 

Advantages of the Bureau's land exchange program include more efficient land manage- 
ment — wildlife values were enhanced, cultural resources protected, recreational opportuni- 
ties increased, and educational and research opportunities were furthered. At the same time, 
land was provided for the state's economic growth without compromising other land man- 
agement goals. With more and more demands on our public lands, Arizona's land exchange 
program has proved to be an effective tool in managing for the future and allowing all 
agencies involved to accomplish their goals. 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 

that the program can be resumed." In addition, the General Accounting 
Office found that the agencies' efforts to comply with the Asset 
Management program also hindered the transfer program by "diverting 
many needed field resources" from its implementation. 

In February 1986, BLM and the Forest Service issued a "BLM/FS 
Interchange" proposal that would have transferred more than 24 million 
acres of land between the agencies and given minerals management 
authority to the Forest Service for its area of jurisdiction. The Reagan 
administration submitted a bill to Congress, the Federal Lands 
Administration Act of 1986. In their legislative proposal, BLM and the 
Forest Service reported that there were 71 towns throughout the West in 
which both maintained offices. After the Interchange, that figure would 
have dropped to 36 towns — each of the 71 towns would have retained at 
least one of the two offices. Concern and some distrust from user groups and 
the public, however — all of whom were at least comfortable with the status 
quo — combined to prevent the bill's passage as of September 1988. 

BLM/Forest Service Interchange Summary 

(Areas in millions of acres) 

Surface Management 

Subsurface Management 


Forest Service 


Forest Service 

Before Interchange 




After Interchange 





Net Change 


+ 5.4 



Note: Acres that would transfer from BLM to FS - 14.8 million 
Acres that would transfer from FS to BLM - 9.4 million 


On December 3, 1982, Interior Secretary James Watt transferred 
onshore minerals responsibilities of the Minerals Management Service 
(MMS) to BLM. Earlier that year (in February 1982), BLM's offshore 
mineral operations were moved to MMS when Watt moved the 
Conservation Division out of the U.S. Geological Survey. Consolidation of 
minerals functions in the Department had been discussed for many years — 
going back to the early 1960s — with support steadily growing for such a 

The Conservation Division was formed in the U.S. Geological Survey 
(USGS) in 1925 to lease minerals, inspect field operations, and collect 
royalties on federal lands. BLM managed surface resources on the public 
lands and could veto USGS leasing actions if it felt sensitive resources were 
endangered by exploration or development. A major reason for changing 



Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

this arrangement was that when BLM and the Conservation Division didn't 
agree on mineral leasing, the issues were taken up by different Assistant 
Secretaries in the Department, who raised problem cases to the Secretary for 
final decisions. In addition, the minerals industry had to deal with two 
agencies during leasing and development. As a result, it was not an 
established client of either agency, the way renewable resource interests 
were in BLM. 

Specific proposals to merge the Conservation Division with BLM were 
made under President Nixon (in the Department of the Environment and 
Natural Resources) and again under President Carter. A major reason forthe 
failure of these proposals was their scope: inclusion of a BLM-Forest 


by Dr. Sally K. Fairfax 
University of California - Berkeley 

Editor's Note: We have asked a well-known and highly respected "outsider" to provide her 
perspective of BLM. Dr. Fairfax has authored several articles and books dealing with public 
land policy including Forest and Range Policy with Samuel Trask Dana. 

The similarities between the BLM and the Forest Service are obvious and important. Both 
agencies are planning-oriented, multiple use talking government land managers that are 
responsible for enormous amounts of federally owned land, most significantly in the western 
United States. That, plus the fact that both are part of the federal bureaucracy suggests that 
these two are, if not Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, at least basically alike. Nevertheless, 
overstating the similarities conceals much that is important about the land, the managers, and 
the legal/institutional context that is critical. 

The BLM is frequently lampooned as the Bureau of Livestock and Mining while the Forest 
Service, for all its recent embattlement continues to enjoy public esteem symbolized by 
Smokey Bear's avuncular embrace. This is simply the downside of the fact that the BLM has, 
for diverse reasons, always been more responsive to its local, commodity oriented constitu- 
ents. In part this reflects reality; until recently it had no other constituents and no authority 
to meet others' demands. 

But the familiar tale that the Forest Service manages the trees and the BLM manages the grass 
is not only not true, it obscures the fundamental difference in the resources managed by the 
two agencies. The National Forests generally came to the agency unencumbered, reserved 
from the public domain prior to occupancy. The BLM, on the other hand, manages land which 
had a long history of private use prior to the belated assertion of federal authority in the 1930s. 
Further, the Taylor Grazing Act dedicated the lands to a single, specific use — grazing. Note 
the difference — the National Forests are not called National Timber Lands. And the courts 
did not help — it was not until the 1960s that grazing permits were consistently recognized as 
a privilege which the BLM could modify, rather than a right. The result of this distinction in 
the origin of the lands is that the Forest Service has been able to manage "its" lands and 
resources while the BLM has been obliged to conserve what the livestock operators consider 


BLM Consolidates lis Gains: The 1980s 

Service merger in each proposal brought up numerous other issues. In 
addition, Congress didn't like the idea of being reorganized by the 
Executive Branch — these proposals would have required Congress to 
rearrange its committees on Interior and Agriculture. 

When the Reagan administration's transition team studied the merger 
issue, it was well aware of the potential benefits — and fate — of previous 
proposals. Under Secretary Watt, the Interior Department decided to limit 
any merger proposals to "in-house" measures. Discussion first centered on 
whether BLM should gain minerals duties from USGS or whether the 
Conservation Division should be elevated to an independent agency. 

their lands by trying to regulate the private ranching practices of the permittees. 

That necessity, and provisions specifically added to the Taylor Grazing Act, resulted in a 
significantly different labor force in the BLM and the Forest Service. While the Forest 
Service was drawing its employees from forestry schools newly developed to imbue their 
graduates with the zeal of Pinchot's professionalism and several hundred years of European 
experience and study in forest management, the BLM was required to hire ranchers from the 
state in which they were to be working. The orientation toward local operators was intensified 
by the "McCarran leaves" in the early 1950s. Congress cut the Bureau's budget to near zero 
and most BLM employees either lost their jobs or were paid by the local Grazing Advisory 
Boards who, as a matter of law, were consulted on policy. The intellectual and professional 
cachet of forestry have yet to be experienced in the scholarship and practice of range science. 

This responsiveness to local political forces has also been potentiated by the structure of the 
BLM, which is basically a western operation organized on a state-by-state basis to maximize 
the influence of the state congressional delegation in BLM matters. This compares with the 
Forest Service's early and successful efforts to obtain sufficient eastern land to become a truly 
"national" organization, thus minimizing western .domination, and its regional organization, 
which puts mid-level management beyond direct reach of the states' congressional delega- 

In spite of these severe handicaps, the BLM has long yearned to be as respected and powerful 
as Smokey's boys across town. It was, indeed, BLM advocacy and aspirations which led in 
1976 to the passage of FLPMA. Although FLPMA specifically did not repeal the Taylor 
Grazing Act (a much ignored fact which speaks political volumes even if its legal import is 
as yet ill-defined), it finally gave the Bureau a firm and continuing basis for existing, 
comprehensive real estate management authority , and the go-ahead for diverse multiple use 
management programs which it had been fabricating for nearly two decades. 

The Reagan years were not conducive to rapid expansion in public appreciation of the 
Bureau. Nevertheless, underneath the continuing problems due to inadequate resources (one 
wag observed in the early 1980s that the BLM has four times the land to manage with one 
seventh the personnel and one third the money) there have been solid gains which bode well 
for the future flowering of the promise of FLPMA. For all of the reasons discussed above, 
the Bureau is way out front in the current trend to involve private enterprise in public resource 
management. It remains to be seen whether they can turn that necessity into a virtue. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 




Mining Law 


In February 1982, Secretary Watt removed the Conservation Division 
from USGS, establishing the Minerals Management Service. On December 
3, 1982, onshore minerals functions (managed by 800 MMS employees) 
were transferred to BLM under Secretarial Order No. 3087 — leaving MMS 
responsible for royalty management and offshore mineral leasing. Section 
5 of the orderstates that"all functions related to royalty and mineral revenue 
management, including collection and distribution, within the Bureau of 
Land Management (BLM) are the responsibility of the MMS. All MMS 
onshore minerals management functions on non-Indian lands, including 
resource evaluation, approval of drilling permits and mining or production 
plans, inspection and enforcement, are transferred to the BLM." The order 
was amended on February 7, 1983, to add onshore Indian lands to the 
Bureau's responsibilities. 

Secretary Watt intended his action to ensure "full consideration" of 
mineral resources in accordance with BLM's multiple use mandate, adding 
that "BLM has long-established expertise in resolving potential conflicts 
among legitimate but competing interests in onshore resource 
management." With the merger, minerals were placed on an equal footing 
with other public land resources. 

Since 1981, BLM State Offices signed cooperative agreements with 
seven western states (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Colorado, 
Wyoming, and Montana) to create a single point of contact for approving 
mining operations and to create joint inspection and compliance programs. 
BLM also issued regulations requiring miners to submit mining notices and 
develop plans of operation to protect other resources. From 1981 to 1987, 
BLM patented 497 mining claims and completed more than 8,500 mineral 
materials contract sales. 

Section 314 of FLPMA required that all mining claims on federal lands 
be recorded within 3 years of passage of the Act — by October 1979. As of 
July 1988 over 1.2 million claims remained active, but an equal number 
were abandoned by failure to file or failure to complete necessary 
assessment work, thereby clearing the lands and mineral estate for other 
purposes, including conveyance or exchange. According to Andy Senti, 
Realty Specialist in the Colorado State Office, "FLPMA's recordation 
requirement was a big plus for BLM as it provided immediate information 
about a resource use on the public lands that previously was very difficult 
to search from county records." 

Under Director Burford, BLM reaffirmed the need for a coal leasing 
program but changed its emphasis from meeting production goals to leasing 
the amount of coal necessary to create a competitive market. From 1981 to 
1987, BLM issued 101 competitive coal leases on federal lands. 

But coal development remained as controversial as ever in the 1980s. 
In January 1981, 11, 282 acres of coal lands were put up for competitive bid 
in Colorado and Wyoming; other sales followed in April and October. In a 
lease sale held in the Powder River area of Montana and Wyoming in April 
1982, charges were made that BLM's minimum acceptable bids for leases 
had been leaked to some of the participating coal companies. A coalition of 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 


by Charlie Most, Public Affairs Officer 
Eastern States Office 

If the battery starts your car on a frosty morning, or if you score a double in your next round 
of skeet, or just use a lead sinker to get some bait down to where the fish are, maybe you should 
thank BLM. That's because 90 percent of the nation's lead supply comes from a few deep 
mines in the Mark Twain National Forest in southeastern Missouri. And since this is acquired 
land with federal minerals, the Bureau's Eastern States Office handles the leasing and 
operational aspects for this unique mining effort. 

Lead is vital to our quality of life. Besides batteries, shotshells, and fishing sinkers, lead is 
used for radiation shields on atomic-powered submarines and energy facilities; electrical, 
optical and telephone cables; plumbing; and many other items. Lead even serves as a 
"cushion" around foundation pillars on skyscrapers to protect them from tremors or shocks. 

Lead has been a valued mineral throughout much of history. In 1701 the French, during their 
early explorations of the Mississippi Valley, found lead ore in southeast Missouri. By 1720 
the LaMotte mine, in what is now Madison County, was in operation. During the late 1700s, 
shallow lead deposits were also being worked near Potosi, and in the early 1800s, additional 
nearby lead deposits were developed. This area, centered about 80 miles south of St. Louis, 
became known as the "Old Lead Belt" and production continued there until 1972. 

But with signs that the old lead belt was being depleted, St. Joseph Lead began extensive 
exploration farther west. In 1955, it discovered a rich lead-zinc ore body, 40 miles long, near 
Viburnum, Missouri. This "New Lead Belt" or Viburnum Trend accounts for nearly all of 
America's lead production, and is the largest lead mining area in the world. But, the 
Viburnum Trend is expected to produce at present levels only until the year 2000 and then 
rapidly decline. However, another promising area lies direcdy south of the Viburnum Trend 
on another part of the Mark Twain National Forest. 

Monitoring these activities plus any subsequent leasing or mineral development requires on- 
the-ground expertise. For the Missouri lead mining activity, this comes from BLM's Rolla, 
Missouri, Project Office under the Milwaukee District's Division of Solid Minerals. This 
office came under Eastern State's jurisdiction in 1983 when upland minerals responsibilities 
were assigned to BLM following the MMS-BLM merger. BLM's team of experts works 
directly with Mark Twain National Forest employees. Following stipulations jointly devel- 
oped by BLM and the Forest Service, these mineral specialists are often a thousand feet 
underground and several miles from a mine's entrance shaft to assure safety and to check 
mine advance (how fast and in what direction the tunnels are being opened). They check the 
condition of the tailings ponds where finely ground dolomite limestone is deposited after the 
minerals have been separated during the smelting process and they monitor the mineral 
production on which royalties are paid the federal government. 

The lead mines of southeastern Missouri produce a vital mineral and provide employment in 
an area that otherwise offers few work opportunities. BLM is known for its traditional land 
management role, but it also oversees a unique mining operation — of a metal that is common, 
but a lot more important than we might realize. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by William Frey 
Montana State Office 

In the fall of 1982, the Fort Union Coal EIS project manager and I were completing an on- 
the-ground review of two federal coal tracts north of Lake Sakakawea, in west-central North 
Dakota. Both tracts were being considered for possible lease offer in the Fort Union Coal 
Region Round I Lease Sale scheduled for September 1983. The Garrison tract had been 
delineated to supply coal to a possible power plant, and the smaller Sakakawea tract had been 
designed as a Small Business Set Aside Tract. 

As we were looking at the Garrison tract, we noticed what appeared to be small dish antennas 
at ground level about a hundred yards off to the west. Except for fences and a county road, 
there were no other observable man-made structures in the area. The topography was 
essentially flat, and a person could see for several miles in any direction . What were two small 
dish antennas doing in the middle of a North Dakota field? I remembered that we were not 
very far from the Minot Air Force Base that maintained and operated Minuteman Inter- 
continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) sites. It was later learned that North Dakota is the fourth 
largest nuclear power in the world. We began to wonder if the Garrison and Sakakawea tracts 
had been delineated in the middle of an ICBM missile field. 

The Air Force was immediately contacted. They were mailed copies of the BLM planning 
documents and the tract profile reports. Very shorUy thereafter, the Air Force told us that two 
underground missile silos and several miles of underground communication cables were 
within the boundaries of the two tracts. Needless to say, the Air Force was concerned about 
the possibility of large scale surface mining in or near the missile sites. After a number of 
meetings between BLM, the Air Force, and the company interested in leasing federal coal in 
the Garrison tract, it was decided to delete the two tracts from the September 1983 federal coal 
lease sale. During the next year, the Air Force com- 
pleted studies that identified buffer zones needed to 
protect missile sites and the underground cables dur- 
ing surface mining. 

It had not occurred to anyone that there could be 
problems in leasing federal coal in the vicinity of 
underground missile sites. There was no mention of 
missile sites in the BLM planning documents, the 
Sakakawea and the Garrison Tract Profile Reports, 
and the draft Fort Union EIS. A momentous effort had 
been made to keep the public, local, state, and federal 
agencies involved and informed while preparing for 
the coal lease sale. Yet something significant almost 
slipped by. Some of the staff lost a little of their 
confidence that all the bases had been covered. From 
that time on, the Air Force and BLM had paid better 
attention to each other's activities. Even today, when 
I hear of a proposed BLM surface disturbance project 
in Montana or North Dakota, I ask if there are any 
missile sites in the area. 

Coal Mining in Colstrip, Montana 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 

environmental groups brought suit against the Department charging that 
inadequate activity planning had taken place and that fair market value was 
not attained in the lease sale. In addition, prior to the sale the Northern 
Cheyenne Tribe in Montana sued the Department, alleging BLM's 
environmental impact statement did not address the impacts of coal 
development on its reservation. 

Investigations by the Department's Office of the Inspector General and 
Congress' Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) could not substantiate 
the charges brought by environmental groups, but prompted two further 
studies of coal. The Linowes Report, Fair Market Value Policy for Coal 
Leasing, issued in February 1984, reported that the United States received 
fair market value in its coal lease sales but recommended minor changes in 
the program. An OTA report, Environmental Protection and the Federal 
Coal Leasing Program, recommended that BLM better document the 
environmental impacts of coal development and strengthen public and state 
participation in the leasing process. 

In the fall of 1987, the U.S. District Court in Montana ruled that the 
Powder River coal lease sale was conducted in accordance with the law and 
that fair market value was attained. However, in the suit brought by the 
Cheyennes, the court directed BLM to prepare a supplemental EIS on 
impacts to tribal lands. 

After the OTA report was issued, Secretary William Clark instituted a 
moratorium on BLM's coal leasing activities to reevaluate the program. 
BLM completed a final EIS in late 1985, strengthening its documentation 
requirements. Another policy change was a return to leasing coal on an 
application basis — the pre-Morton policy. Consequently, by 1988, all coal 
regions (except Powder River) were "decertified," meaning BLM no longer 
determined where leasing would occur. 

The Energy Security Act of 1980 renewed national interest in oil shale 
by creating an independent, government-sponsored Synthetic Fuels 
Corporation. Its mission was to stimulate production of 2 million barrels of 
oil a day by 1992 through the retorting of shale oil and liquification of coal. 
The sharp drop in oil prices during the 1980s, however, made oil shale an 
unattractive investment. Exxon pulled out of its Colorado operation in 
1982, while other companies also quit or cut back their work, producing an 
economic bust for Colorado's Western Slope. 

A major issue in the 1980s concerned the validity of oil shale claims 
made on 82,000 acres in Colorado prior to 1920 (oil shale was a locatable 
mineral until passage of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1 920). In administrative 
proceedings in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Interior Department ruled 
that almost all the claims were invalid, but these findings were overturned 
in federal district court in Tosco vs. Hodel. BLM was directed to transfer all 
title to the claimants, including the entire subsurface mineral estate. 
Existing uses, including grazing and hunting, could have been eliminated. 
The Interior Department appealed the case but also followed the court's 
recommendation to "explore settlement without further appeal in this 

Coal Studies 

Oil Shale 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

In 1986, Secretary Donald Hodel approved a settlement with the 
claimants whereby the federal government retained rights to all oil, gas, and 
coal deposits on the lands and preserved Colorado's 50 percent share of 
mineral leasing royalties. Existing rights-of-way were also retained, along 
with grazing and recreational uses of the land. Nevertheless, 
environmentalists and others criticized this action as a giveaway. The State 
of Colorado and ranchers whose grazing leases were affected also 
protested, prompting Congress to begin a study of possible actions with 
regard to the remaining unpatented claims. 

The Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act of 1982 

(FOGRMA) strengthened BLM's inspection and enforcement programs 

Oil and Gas for onshore oil and gas production. Lease operators were required to 

document production from wells and comply with site security measures 


by Danny S. Charlie 
Navajo Coordinator, Farmington Resource Area 

I have been the Navajo Affairs Coordinator for the Bureau's Farmington Resource Area for 
the past 14 years. I am also a proud member of the Navajo Tribe, the largest Indian Tribe in 
the United States. I began my career with the Bureau because I saw an opportunity to help 
my people and work with natural resources. As Navajo Coordinator I help BLM make sure 
that the concerns of Navajos are taken into account before any resource decisions are made. 
I assist in land pattern adjustments, helping both the Tribe and the Bureau manage their lands 
better. I also serve as the Navajo interpreter. (The Navajo language is perhaps the most 
complicated language in the world. A code in the Navajo language was used during World 
War II to convey secret information to the Allied Forces. I understand the code was never 

There are several thousand Navajos living off the reservation in northwestern New Mexico, 
in a region known as the "Checkerboard Area." The land pattern was created by a railroad 
land grant but further complicated by lands taken up by Anglo and Hispanic homesteaders, 
individual Navajos, and the Navajo Tribe. 

Perhaps my single most important contribution has been my work with the Bureau of Indian 
Affairs on the Navajo Tribe-BLM Land Exchange. The exchange sought to secure the homes 
of Navajos who had settled on the public lands but had not filed entries. It has taken 12 years 
so far and many public meetings and conferences with BI A and the Navajo Tribe to work out 
solutions. I am still working on Navajo occupancy problems. Two are of particular interest 
to me now. 

One involves an 80-year old Navajo named George Simpson. His home is on public land just 
inside a wilderness area. Mr. Simpson has always lived on this spot and wanted to fix his 
corral and add electricity. Since improvements of any type are not allowed in a wilderness 
area, BLM is working with him and the Navajo Tribe for a solution to the problem. The Tribe 
supports the idea of having the wilderness area's boundary changed (which would require 
congressional action), or resettling him to a nearby area they hope to purchase. 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 

established by the Secretary. Penalties were set for operators who failed to 
protect against theft or tampering with meters recording production. BLM 
completed all inspections required on high-production leases and launched 
a comprehensive training program on inspection, drainage analysis, and 
unit agreements. 

Procedures for determining known geologic structures (KGSs) on 
federal lands erupted into a major national controversy in the 1980s. How 
BLM classified and leased federal minerals could mean millions of dollars 
in revenue gained or lost by state governments. Oil and gas companies 
disagreed among themselves about the way lands should be leased, with 
larger companies generally favoring competitive leasing. Because 
competitive leasing included bonus bids (50 percent of which were shared 
by the states), most states also favored the process. 

Mrs. Bessie Woody is an elderly sheepherder who speaks only Navajo. She has lived on the 
same mesa all her life. Some time ago she had a new home built a little west of her old location. 
It was a logical choice since the new site gave her a beautiful view of Ojo Alamo Spring, one 
of the (now) De Na Zin Wilderness Area's more scenic sites. Her home unfortunately, was 
not on her allotment as she had thought, but on public land. Because she believes the mistake 
is hers, she is willing to move back onto her allotment but needs assistance. 

Another problem in the Checker- 
board Area is coal. Many Navajos 
are living over federal coal, in 
areas set aside for preference right 
leasing or open to competitive coal 
leasing. Most Navajos oppose coal 
development because they feel 
their traditional homes and grazing 
areas will be destroyed, along with 
many important religious sites. 
They want to retain their way of 
life and their bond with the land. 

BLM has tried to deal with these 
concerns, yet respond to the de- 
mands of coal developers. The San Juan River Regional Coal Environmental Impact 
Statement (late 1970s-early 1980s) was one such effort. BLM held several public meetings 
and hearings in adjacent communities and local Navajo chapter houses. At some of these 
meetings, the Navajos asked me for my personal opinions on coal development and whether 
I had taken the side of non-Indians. My answer was simple, "While it's true I work for BLM, 
F m here to give you the information in your own language so you will understand it. We need 
your input." Judging from the questions I receive daily, I'm sure I have their trust and I'm 
hopeful that I have done much to dispel the "Bad Guy" image some have attributed to the 
government. Certainly, my work with the Navajo people and public is challenging and 
rewarding — the highlight of my career. 

Danny Charlie and Bessie Woody 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

In the late 1970s noncompetitive oil and gas leases issued by BLM in 
Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, through the simultaneous oil and gas leasing 
program (the "SIMO" lottery) were challenged in federal court by the State 
of Arkansas and supported by Senator Dale Bumpers, Chairman of the 
Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The court reversed this 
action and the tracts were eventually awarded through competitive bidding. 

In 1982, BLM issued noncompetitive oil and gas leases on certain tracts 
in Amos Draw, Wyoming; one tract promptly sold on the secondary market 


by Paul Parthun 
Inspection & Enforcement Coordinator, Roswell District, New Mexico 

"Sheesh! Another 3 a.m. cementing operation. Guess 
I'd better try for some earlier sleep tonight." I gather my 
gear and put it into my 4-wheel-drive pickup so I won ' t 
be delayed any longer than necessary when I get to the 
office at 1 :30. My eyes don't want to stay open as I drive 
to the office, but the cold morning air helps a little. Once 
in the pickup I turn up the radio — loud — and check the 
drilling location. It's fully 40 miles into the boonies. 
Later, even though I see the bright lights of the drilling 
rig in the distance, I take a wrong turn and the road ends 
at a ranch cattle watering station. 

All Petroleum Engineering Technicians (PETs) empa- 
thize with such schedules. Well drilling is a 24-hour-a- 

day job and PETs must be on call to witness certain operations that are critical in protecting 
the subsurface such as fresh water or potash zones. And it's curious that most such witnessing 
occurs in the wee hours. PETs shrug it off saying, "Everybody knows cement doesn't set up 
in daylight hours." 

After the well is drilled in concordance with BLM approvals, industry operators must 
continue to comply with Federal laws, regulations, and policies as they begin to produce the 
formation or abandon the well. This is the job of PETs — to ensure that oil and gas operations 
on federal and tribal lands are in compliance. They are inspectors who enforce these 
requirements as necessary. 

Congress and the BLM have provided the PET with broad responsibilities and authority 
relating to oil and gas operations as they deal with safety, protection of the environment, 
proper disposition of production, accurate reporting of production, and adequate lease site 
security. PETs must exercise critical judgements in levying assessments for noncompliance, 
or under certain circumstances, even shutting down an operation. 

PETs are certified by BLM only after undergoing a comprehensive training program that 
includes classroom (160 hours) and on-the-job activities. They are tested throughout this 
time, usually for about a year. If they perform satisfactorily, they are recommended by their 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 

for over 1 million dollars. Widespread coverage in the national news media 
stirred up additional congressional concern about BLM's KGS procedures. 
After Amos Draw Director Burford imposed a moratorium on oil and 
gas leasing to study KGS issues. BLM contracted with the National 
Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the Keplinger Technology Consultants, 
Inc., an independent consulting firm, to evaluate its oil and gas leasing 
program, particularly its KGS determinations. The NAS recommended that 
BLM broaden its criteria for determining KGSs, while the Keplinger 

supervisor for certification. Industry background, skills in mathematics and knowledge of 
geology, together with a thorough knowledge of Federal laws, regulations, and policies are 
essential for aPET to do a good job. Then add an ability to analyze computer and records data, 
filing correct reports and keeping abreast of the latest operational information, and you have 
an idea of what it takes to be a PET at 3 a.m. or any other time. 

It's a good job. PETs spend much of their time outdoors. Oil and gas activities are generally 
in the most beautiful and remote areas of the western United States. PETs work alone most 
of the time, making independent judgments. No place here for indecisive, super-gregarious 

I arrive at the rig a half-hour late but I see that the crew isn't on hand yet to do the cementing 
operation. I zip up my jacket and walk to the company trailer to introduce myself, then climb 
the steel-grated stairs to the floor of the rig and into the "doghouse." I meet the driller and his 
crew, thank them for the hot coffee, then look at the driller's log to review the operation so 
far. I make sure the APD is posted and the operation is laid out as approved. The well ID is 
O.K. too — good operator. Out of the small window, I can see die yellow- lights of six 
equipment trucks about a mile off, raising a cloud of dust visible even from here. Looks like 
a humongous caterpillar. On the ground again, I walk around the rig, making sure that 
everything is as it should be. 

The crew arrives, hooks up, and begins forcing cement into the hole under high pressure, 
surrounding the steel well casing with an impervious layer of cement, assuring that nowhere 
along its 800-ft. length will drilling fluids or production be allowed to leak into the 

The job comes off without a problem — pretty rare. It's 9 a.m. now and I sit in the truck writing 
out my report. By 9:45 I'm on the way back to the office and I radio my supervisor that I'll 
be in by 11. 

Once there I look in the mirror and I'm glad I don't have to be anywhere today where my 
appearance makes a difference. I look like hell and I don't feel much better. But, hot water, 
soap, comb and towel makes me feel like I can handle the rest of die day. 

In our office PETs rotate by the job, so I know I won't be called out again tonight. Ahh, sleep. 
When I arrive home my wife greets me with a little reserve, then confides, "I've invited the 
Hortons over this evening. O.K.?" The Hortons? Sheesh! I'd rather have another 3 a.m. 
cementing job. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Technology Consultants recommended ways of improving BLM's 
program, focusing on standardization and documentation. In the meantime, 
Burford directed BLM to reinstate a long-standing Departmental policy 
requiring thorough geologic evaluations of lands before making KGS 

BLM's intensified geologic evaluations resulted in larger KGS areas 
being designated on federal lands — causing a controversy with smaller oil 
companies who favored smaller KGS areas and increased noncompetitive 
leasing. At the same time, however, Senator Bumpers and others in 
Congress introduced bills to make all federal oil and gas leasing 
competitive. Congress eventually passed a compromise measure, the 
Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act of 1987, which 
eliminated the government's KGS program. The act specified that all 
federal oil and gas leases must be offered competitively at oral auction; 
tracts not receiving bids would then be available for noncompetitive leasing 
for up to 2 years. 


The 1980s ushered in a fundamental change in the federal government's 
role in natural resource management. Funding for BLM renewable resource 
programs was trimmed to accommodate declining federal budgets and 
Reagan administration goals to simplify federal regulations. The Bureau 
focused its efforts on consolidating field activities, cutting down on 
duplication in renewable resource programs. Director Burford called for 
greater agency cooperation with BLM's publics and solicited more active 
participation from local land users, conservation groups, and other 
government agencies. Cooperative Management Agreements, used by 
BLM's wildlife program with state agencies since the 1960s, were 
expanded to include recreation and other user groups. 

To more fully integrate renewable resource programs and make field 
operations more efficient, BLM began to collect and share data among its 
programs. The ecological site inventory (ESI) was developed to measure 
vegetation on the public lands. This and other joint ventures reduced the 
need for programs to conduct overlapping resource inventories. Data on 
vegetation came to be used as a measure of soil erosion, deer browse, 
livestock forage, watershed condition, or even dune stability in off-road 
vehicle areas. ESI data was used to develop land use plans, with more 
specific data then being collected by individual programs. 

Another initiative crossing program lines during the 1980s was the 
Bureau's development of a policy for managing riparian areas. BLM had 
Riparian managed riparian areas since the 1960s, but with most of its emphasis 
Areas related to the wildlife program. During meetings sponsored by the 

Congressional Research Service in 1984, riparian management surfaced as 
a significant issue in BLM's range program and was prominent during 
consideration of the Omnibus Range Bill by Congress. In May 1985, 
BLM's National Public Lands Advisory Council recommended that the 


BLM Consolidates lis Gains: The 1980s 

Bureau develop a comprehensive riparian area management program. 

In a policy statement signed by Director Robert F. Burford on January 
22, 1987, riparian areas were recognized as "unique and among the most 
productive and important ecosystems" on the public lands. Riparian areas, 
which comprise about 1 percent of BLM lands, were defined as "directly 
influenced by permanent water, with visible vegetation or physical 
characteristics." BLM policy was established to "maintain, restore, or 
improve riparian values to achieve a healthy and productive ecological 
condition for maximum long-term benefits." To do this, BLM would 
recognize riparian values in newly developed resource management plans 
and activity plans and would achieve its goals through management of 
existing land uses. 

BLM range conservationists worked with livestock operators to design 
grazing systems that would improve riparian vegetation and streambank 
stability. Bureau employees in the Rock Springs District (Wyoming) 
transplanted beavers to rehabilitate eroding streams. Willow and aspen logs 
were delivered to streams, where beavers built dams — which, in turn, built 
up streambanks, water tables, and streamside vegetation. In Oregon, BLM 
biologists enhanced spawning habitats of salmon and steelhead trout by 
enlisting volunteers (local sportsmen's clubs and Boy Scout troops) to 
construct gabion check dams, which created pools within streams. 


In 1978, BLM successfully negotiated with the Natural Resources 
Defense Council (NRDC) to reduce the numbers of grazing environmental 
impact statements (ElSs)it would prepare in the field from 2 1 2 to 1 5 8 . BLM 
wanted to consolidate smaller planning areas and combine its grazing EISs 
with Resource Management Plans that were to be prepared for BLM 
Resource Areas. No grazing lands were omitted from the EIS requirement; 
NRDC and the Courts agreed with the change. With further consolidations 
agreed to by NRDC, BLM scheduled the last of 142 grazing statements for 
completion in 1989. 

In 1980, BLM continued to rely on forage inventory data to prepare 
EISs and set stocking rates. Many permittees — and range scientists — took 
issue with this method of deciding grazing issues because BLM was using 
data collected in only one season of a given year. Livestock organizations 
and academia challenged the value of data, much of which had been 
collected during a drought year and did not reflect normal or long-range 
forage growth. 

The Society for Range Management, the National Academy of 
Sciences, and other groups examined this question and recommended that 
BLM implement long-term studies to better reflect range forage production, 
condition, and trend. Under Director Burford, BLM moved away from 
relying solely on inventory data to monitoring range conditions on public 
grazing lands. BLM's monitoring activities examined 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by Phyllis Roseberry 
Grass Creek Resource Area, Wyoming 

In October 1984. 1 became Area Manager for the Grass Creek Resource .Area. My assignment 
followed the completion of the Area's Management Framework Plan and Grazing Environ- 
mental Impact Statement Thus. I was in an enviable position to implement apian and actually 
be a party to the changes. This aspect appeals to me because I can experience direct feedback. 

But feedback is definitely a mixed bag. Significant improvements have been made in the 
rangeland. watershed and wildlife resources but significant controversy has also been 
generated. This job is challenging to say the least. 

People often ask me if I mink being a woman has affected the public ' s or Bureau employees ' 
reaction to me. I think there was considerable apprehension both from the staff and from the 
users prior to my arrival. Any change from the usual is always difficult to accept. I believe 
focusing on the joint public land use problems before us rather than on our individual physical 
differences helped develop a good relationship and mutual appreciation. Within a relatively 
short time, any misapprehension or distrust was alleviated. 

As for the public land 
users, if anything, they 
have been extra polite 
to me. I remember 
being yelled at once by 
a permittee who had 
been trespassed. In the 
middle of a sen: 
he stopped and apolo- 
gized profusely. I 
think he suddenly real- 
ized yelling at a 
woman was not 
"proper gentlemanly 
practice. " I told him 
the yelling didn't 

bother me because it showed he considered me an equal to any man who would have 
trespassed him. Again, finding solutions to the problems far outweighs any differences. 

I believe the team effort of a relatively small group of diverse specialists in a resource area 
setting is a most exciting situation. It offers abundant opportunities to learn more about 
human nature as well as resource problems. We are all different in many ways, but the 
important thing is that all of us do our jobs because we are basically dedicated to good public 
land management. 

A*€S '■'.S'-SSz' ?■ 

Wyoming Sum 

rwj with Wayne Eridaom, 

nation program leader. 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 

- Actual Use (number of livestock on allotment) 

- Utilization (amount and type of forage used) 

- Gimate (monthly precipitation, temperatures, etc.) 

- Trend (improving, declining, or static) 

BLM also collected data on major events such as wildfires, insect 
infestation, or drought. According to Billy Templeton, Chief, Branch of 
Range Management, BLM's move to monitoring was of major benefit to the 
Bureau's range program: "It institutionalized range studies over time, 
instead of having the BLM rely on data collected for just one year." 

BLM's range program also began to focus on allotments where 
management would bring the best results. Grazing allotments were placed 
in one of three categories: 

"M" (Maintain) - Range is producing at or near potential; present 

management is satisfactory. 
"I" (Improve) - Resource conflicts need to be addressed; forage 

resources are responsive to management 
"C" (Custodial) - Range is in poor condition and not responsive to 


BLM developed a more effective cost/benefit analysis for range 
improvements and began to target them on "I" allotments where they would 
do the most good. Working closely with allottees and other land users 
during the process paid significant dividends to the Bureau: many ranchers 
and conservation groups came to support the effort. 

BLM Grazing Fees 


Animal Unit Month Fee 











The grazing fee formula set by the Public Rangelands Improvement Act 
(PRIA) remained in effect on BLM and Forest Service lands until 1985. 
Congress then asked the agencies to study and report on the fee structure for 
1986 and subsequent years, which was accomplished in their 1985 annual 
reports to Congress. The House and Senate, however, ran out of time to 
consider the study and did not enact any new legislation on grazing fees. 

In the absence of Congressional action, Secretary William Clark was 
instrumental in convincing President Reagan to issue an Executive Order 
reestablishing the PRIA formula, but with a minimum fee of $1.35 per 

Grazing Fees 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


2b - 
20 " 




15 - 





10 - 
5 - 

o - 

1 1 ■ 


1983 1984 

Fiscal Year 



Grazing Revenues 1981-1986 



and Planning 

animal unit month. NRDC challenged the legality of this order, but the 
courts decided in favorof the government. As of September 1988, Congress 
continued to study legislative proposals setting new fee formulas. 

After passage of the Public Rangelands Improvement Act in 1978, 
BLM developed an experimental stewardship program to test new 
approaches to improving rangeland conditions, as directed by the act. BLM 
set up 16 experimental stewardship projects in eight states with land users 
and other agencies (for example, the Forest Service and state wildlife 
agencies) to cooperatively develop new and innovative ways to manage 
public rangelands. 

Cooperative Management Agreements (CMAs) and coordinated 
resource management plans grew out of this work. Director Burford 
introduced CMAs to BLM's range program in 1982 to recognize 
outstanding livestock operators on the public lands and assure them of 
continued long-term tenure on their allotments. Operators with CMAs were 
free to adjust livestock numbers, seasons of use, and kinds of livestock 
grazed on their allotments within predetermined limits agreed upon and 
included in the terms of the CMA. CMAs were issued for 10 years with 
resource evaluations scheduled at 5-year intervals. If multiple use 
objectives were met, BLM could renew the agreements — and grazing 
permits — for another 10 years. 

The program was never fully implemented, however. BLM was sued by 
NRDC in 1984, asserting that the Bureau was allowing a specific group of 
land users to exert undue influence in managing grazing on public lands — 
without involving other interests in the process. After losing the case in 
1985, BLM declined an opportunity to appeal the case and dropped CMAs 
from its range program. 

In the meantime, the Nevada State Office took the lead in developing 
Coordinated Resource Management and Planning (CRMP). This process 
involved everyone concerned with resource management in a given area — 
landowners, BLM and other agencies, resource users, and the interested 
public — to address resource conflicts at the local level. According to State 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 


by Al Riebau 
Wyoming State Office 

There is one resource that the Bureau has a responsibility to manage that exists in every state, 
district, and resource area. It's so universally pervasive that no other resource or Bureau 
resource program could exist without it. It is also quite probably the resource that we know 
the least about managing collectively as an agency and the one to which the BLM has assigned 
the smallest staff. That resource is, of course, the air around us. 

Air doesn't mean just air quality to the Bureau's "air" specialists. Air to us means Air 
Resource Management (ARM). ARM is a new atmospheric science approach perhaps unique 
to land managers. It covers abroad range of activities including climate, weather, smoke man- 
agement, pollution impact modeling, monitoring for such things as acid rain and visibility, 
and regulation development coordination. 

BLM originally hired air specialists to perform air quality analyses to support EIS prepara- 
tion. This was indeed a one-dimensional activity, involving only air quality work. Most of 
it centered around projecting the potential for air pollution against various state and federal 
air standards. It was, of course, a bread-and-butter activity and Bureau specialists enjoyed a 
well-defined if hectic role. At one time the Bureau had a staff of 12 specialists busy with these 
kinds of activities. Some of these early specialists worked on upwards of seven EIS teams at 
a time and administered analysis contracts to support the documents. 

As minerals markets softened, EIS work dwindled. ARM personnel have gone the way of the 
EIS frenzy and we are now down to four full-time positions within the agency. At this writing, 
three State Office ARM specialists fill both state and agencywide functions. The Utah State 
Office specialist, Dr. William Wagner (hired in 1975, the first ARM specialist employed by 
any federal land management agency), is the Bureau's lead technical expert for air impacts 
from hazardous wastes. The Colorado State Office specialist, Scott Archer, is the lead for 
visibility (atmospheric clarity as it relates to air pollution) issues. I serve as a technical lead 
for acid rain issues, wilderness air quality and monitoring issues, plus some aspects of air 
quality and smoke management, and air pollutant modeling. The Washington Office program 
manager, Stan Coloff, provides overall program guidance and policy development besides 
coordination of training and interagency relations. Carrying out these Bureauwide duties at 
State Offices doesn't fit into the normal scheme of the Bureau's organizational structure. In 
truth, the factor that has allowed the program to function has been the support of managers 
who make allowances for the unorthodox (and recognize that these specialties at times must 
be shared) for the good of the Bureau as a whole. 

The development of ARM in the Bureau is far from over. Applying climate information, 
especially if global climates shift as some predict, will require specialists with knowledge of 
Bioclimatology. As new particulate and visibility regulations are applied, ARM specialists 
in smoke dispersion prediction and dispersion meteorology will become more necessary. 
The challenge for the Bureau's ARM specialists will be to provide the support that these 
issues will demand. This means learning to manage the atmosphere as a resource that can be 
renewed and enhanced, with the Bureau taking an active role. Nothing as pervasive as the 
Earth's atmosphere can remain unnoticed for very long. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by Myra Musialkiewicz and Michael Giblin 
Hazardous Materials Staff 

In April 1985, hydrogen sulfide gas was released from a liquid waste lagoon at the Lee Acres 
Landfill near Farmington, New Mexico. The gas caused temporary illness and discomfort to 
landfill users and emergency response personnel. At the same time, there was a release of 
surface water from one lagoon that ran into the adjacent arroyo. 

Under the Recreation and Public Purposes Act, BLM is authorized to lease its lands to 
municipalities for varied public purposes. San Juan County in New Mexico holds such a lease 
to operate the Lee Acres Landfill, one of 336 operating landfills authorized under the Act. The 
lease allowed the County to provide essential sanitation services at a very low cost. 

The Bureau, as landowner, is one of the parties that is responsible for protecting public health 
and safety. This responsibility derives from federal laws, specifically the Comprehensive 
Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, as amended (CERCLA, the 
"Superfund Act"). Private parties, local governments (like San Juan County) and states also 
have responsibilities under this statute as well as related federal and state laws. 

BLM studied the site and identified potential risk, from several possible sources, to local well 
users. Once identified, the Bureau quickly took action to deal with the potential threat to the 
public health of landfill users and subdivision residents without regard to who was actually 
responsible for the threat. Once the imminent threat was handled, BLM began working on 
long-term assessment and control of risk in the area. Because of the other possible sources 
of contamination, the Bureau expanded the area of study to include not only the landfill but 
the surrounding industrial area that contains a refinery and numerous oil and gas wells. The 
study area as now defined contains 2,100 acres of federal, state, and private lands. 

Since the site investigation, BLM has conducted soil-gas contaminant analyses and extensive 
hydrogeologic and water quality studies throughout the area, including the San Juan River. 
BLM is continuing to monitor groundwater levels and quality through 19 detection wells that 
were installed in the larger site area. In addition, the Bureau is in the process of awarding a 
contract to conduct a remedial investigation/feasibility study/EIS for the entire site. The 
contractor will determine the nature, quantity, and source(s) of pollutants and contaminants 
at the site and will include a search for potentially responsible parties who may share the costs 
of any necessary site cleanup. It will also examine alternative means for site cleanup and make 
recommendations for consideration by the Secretary as part of the decision process. 

By 1988, BLM spent in excess of $1 .3 million dealing with this contamination problem, with 
another $3 million anticipated for the additional studies. Based on EPA estimates, a site of 
this size could cost as much as $25 million to clean up. The cleanup is scheduled to begin in 
mid- 1992, with monitoring continuing a minimum of 20 years. 

In the meantime, BLM is not issuing any more R&PP leases for landfills; rather, it will 
transfer lands needed for municipal landfills and other waste disposal facilities out of federal 
ownership. In 1989, the Bureau will begin audits of other landfills on the public lands for 
compliance with EPA regulations and BLM environmental stipulations. 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 

Director Edward F. Spang, CRMP plans were developed within the 
framework of laws, regulations, and applicable land use plans. "Major areas 
of conflict were subjected to the CRMP process, including livestock 
grazing, watershed problems, off-road vehicle designations, and 
wilderness suitability recommendations." 

Soil, water, and air activities were placed in BLM's range program in 
1982. Since then the branch has conducted soil surveys on the public lands 
at a rate of 4 million acres per year. Of 157 million acres targeted for such 
surveys, 129 million have been completed. The branch also developed an 
automated soil information system to integrate existing soils data with other 
resource information. 

Watershed projects in the 1980s included nine hydrologic modeling 
programs focusing on water quality, erosion, and precipitation. Eight 
watershed activity plans were implemented in support of the Colorado 
River salinity program and four in support of flood and sedimentation 
mitigation. Instream flow assessments were completed for the Beaver 
Creek National Wilderness River in Alaska and the San Pedro River 
management area in Arizona to identify resources in these areas and the 
amounts of water required to sustain them. 

BLM has supported more than 20 years of research by the Agricultural 
Research Service (ARS) at the Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed in 
southwest Idaho. Congress established the facility in the early '60s, to 
collect data on runoff and water yields from plateau and foothill grazing 
areas. The project was undertaken to facilitate the long-term improvement 
of grazing and rangeland management, and has been the largest and 
lengthiest watershed research project BLM ever participated in. 

The Reynolds Creek watershed contains a wide range of environmental 
conditions found in a variety of western rangelands. BLM/ ARS research 
yielded important data on resource monitoring and modeling, precipitation 
and climate, streamflow and runoff, erosion and sediment, water quality, 
vegetation, and soils. 

During the 1980s, the extensive data base on rangeland activities was 
used to create simulations that estimate impacts and magnitudes of land 
practices in land use plans. A 1984 conference of federal and state land 
management agencies began an era of transfering Reynolds Creek data and 
analysis techniques into management practice. 

Starting in 1981, BLM's air resources program participated in the 
National Atmospheric Deposition Program to help quantify water 
chemistry (including acid rain) on the public lands. BLM also developed 
smoke and pollution estimation models which quantify atmospheric 
changes and dispersion potentials. 

Soil, Water, 

and Air 







BLM's role in managing fish and wildlife resources on the public lands 
became more widely recognized in the 1980s. Fish and Wildlife 2000, a 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

strategic plan for the program, was signed by Director Robert Burford on 
May 21, 1987. It is the first long-range plan developed for the wildlife 
program, calling on BLM to manage "with emphasis on ecosystems to 
ensure viable populations and a natural abundance and diversity of wildlife, 
fisheries, and plant resources on the public lands." 

BLM's wildlife program features three components: wildlife habitat 
management, fisheries habitat management, and threatened/endangered 
species management. The Bureau accomplishes its goals by implementing 
habitat management plans (HMPs); it also specifies fish and wildlife 
objectives in other activity plans and implements recovery plans for 
threatened and endangered species. In addition, BLM biologists place 
stipulations in leases, licenses, and permits to mitigate adverse impacts to 
fish and wildlife habitats and implement on-the-ground improvement 

Srv~.,.tf - 

i — -jr. — i — = := . ' i . 

. .. '■- <- ; ■ 



PupM MiMAkea M^^S^ 



««-j £$&£T 


BLM has worked on cooperative fishery projects since the early 1960s, including the Las Vegas 
District's School Springs project to restore and maintain habitats for the endangered Warm 
Springs pupfish. Jim Deacon (left), University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Lew Myers, BLM. 

Since 1980, 160 HMPs were prepared in BLM, bringing the total 
developed to 399. More than 100 have been fully implemented, with 212 
more in the process of being implemented. Fish are priority species in 106 
aquatic HMPs prepared to improve habitat on 3,100 miles of streams 
crossing public lands, according to Art Oakley, fishery biologist in the 
Oregon State Office. The major species for 50 of these plans are either 
endangered or threatened, or candidates for listing. In addition, Bureau 
biologists contribute to interagency recovery plans for threatened or 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 


By Allen Cooperrider 
BLM Service Center 

Desert Bighorn sheep are the only ungulate native to the southwestern deserts and mountains. 
About 80 percent of the current desert bighorn habitat is on federal land, most of which is 
administered by BLM. Although once in danger of extirpation, desert bighorns are now well 
on the way to recovery. BLM's past efforts have been key to this effort and the future of the 
desert bighorn depends on BLM's continuing efforts. 

Most of the native ungulates of North America, such as elk, mule and white-tailed deer, and 
antelope had severely declined by the beginning of the 20th century. Desert bighorn 
continued to decline well after the other ungulates were on the road to recovery. About 1 
million desert bighorn sheep were present in North America at the beginning of the 19th 
century. By the mid-20th century their numbers had declined to less than 10,000 due to 
overhunting, disease, competition from livestock and burros, and human disturbances. 

In 1950, BLM began efforts to protect bighorn sheep and their habitat. These efforts were the 
first such efforts and the beginning of BLM's formal wildlife program. By 1960, BLM was 
actively working with biologists from state agencies to improve desert bighorn habitat. 
Those practices — cooperation with state wildlife agencies, conservative use of bighorn 
ranges by livestock, water development, avoidance of shifts from cattle to domestic sheep 
use, and preservation of critical areas in public ownership — have remained a cornerstone of 
BLM efforts for desert bighorn. By hiring wildlife biologists and establishing a wildlife 
program in the mid-1960s, BLM further enhanced several of its recovery programs. 

In 1985, Congress appropriated a Challenge Grant of $300,000 to BLM specifically for the 
recovery of desert bighorn sheep. The appropriation stipulated that the grant be matched by 
private sector funding or in-kind services. With this, BLM was able to initiate numerous 
projects, including water developments, inventory and monitoring, and studies to determine 
causes of lamb mortality. Currently, about $1 million a year is being spent (including the 
Challenge Grant, matching contributions, and base funds) to continue these efforts. 

In January 1988, Director 
Burford signed a rangewide 
plan for desert bighorn sheep 
that outlined a balanced pro- 
gram of inventory, on-the- 
ground projects, monitoring 
and research for facilitating 
recovery of desert bighorn in 
115 habitat areas in the South- 
west. By implementing this 
rangewide plan, BLM should 
be able to achieve a substan- 
tial recovery of sheep within 
the next 25 years. 



^rm W f\ V In ( / 


«- . 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by Robert E. Stewart 
Nevada State Office 

Management of America's wild and free roaming horses and burros has given the BLM a 
unique role in maintaining a colorful aspect of Western lore — the roundup. The modern 
rancher conducts few cattle roundups because of costs. Yet the roundup remains the only 
effective way to remove excess horses and burros from western rangelands. 

In some places, the animals are water-trapped. A temporary fence is placed around a water 
hole, and when thirst overcomes caution, horses enter the enclosure, only to have a gate close 
behind them. 

Far more common is the contract helicopter gather. This effort requires the Bureau wild horse 
specialist to thoroughly know the herd and the herd-use area. Before a contract is let, the 
specialist, through reconnaissance flights, locates the horses and identifies those to be 

Then trap sites are selected. These must be near a road, because the horses will be trucked to 
a center for freeze branding, vaccinations, and eventual adoption. More than a hundred metal 
fencing panels arrive — enough for a main trap pen, including sorting pens to separate mares, 
wet mares and foals, and stallions. Long wings of panels, a quarter mile or more, reach out 
from the trap entrance, creating a funnel effect. Experienced contractors can erect these in one 
day, two at the most. 

Often, camouflage is used. Brush may be cut and woven into the panels. Canvas may be used 
to break the straight lines so the trap is less obvious to the spooky horses. 

As the trap nears completion, the Bureau specialist and capture pilot reconnoiter the area by 
helicopter, being careful not to disturb the bands of horses. Now the colorful part begins. Still 
camera and motion picture photographers start gathering to capture some of the spirit and 
color of this bit of the Old West. 

The helicopter, at low altitude, circles out to haze the horses toward the mouth of the trap. 
Drawing on experience, the pilot moves the horses at a pace which tires, but does not exhaust, 
them. One band may be "parked" while the pilot circles back to draw in more, grouping 35 
to 75 horses some distance from the trap. 

Now the pilot swings back and forth in the sky like a talented, tenacious sheepdog at work, 
moving the whole herd. Slowly at first, then faster, the pilot hazes the herd toward the open 
end of the trap. 

Meanwhile on the ground, a trained "parada" (or "Judas") horse has been led to a point just 
outside the open end of the trap wings. It is held by a worker crouched close to the ground. 
As the helicopter-pushed horses draw closer, the tethered horse is released. It runs toward the 
trap, followed by a thunder of dust-raising hoofs. Timing is critical, for the worker holding 
the parada horse must get out of the way, unseen, to avoid personal injury or spooking the 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 

Deep in the trap wings, another crew member dashes out behind the horses , "closing" the trap 
with a canvas "gate." Though the horses could easily tear through the cloth, few of them do, 
never having seen "walls" before. 

A more solid gate closes. The helicopter lands, and the next phase begins. 

The startled horses mill about the trap, often charging around as they spot people outside. 
Once the horses are sorted a period of quiet and settling down begins. A state brand inspector 
often reviews the horses for signs of ownership; not only brands, but signs of having been 
saddled or having worn halters will put horses under jurisdiction of the state estray laws. 

Brought into close proximity, the horses need special care. They are susceptible to injury and 
sickness, especially in the first few days. If they have been run too hard or over hard rocky 
ground, leg and hoof injury may take several days to show up. But the horses are now cared 
for daily by some of the best trained horse handlers in the world, the managers and staff of 
BLM wild horse facilities. 

Roundup outside Susanville, California. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

endangered species, including the Warm Springs pupfish in Nevada and the 
humpback chub, bonytail chub, and Colorado squawfish in the Colorado 
River system. A total of 73 recovery plans have been developed, 56 of which 
are currently being implemented. 

Increased cooperation and partnerships have been developed with 
conservation organizations, commodity groups, and landowners to 
encourage outside participation in habitat improvement projects. For 
example, national-level agreements were signed with the Rocky Mountain 
Elk Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation, 
and Trout Unlimited to expand cooperation and joint activities at the field 
level. Congressional appropriations of challenge cost-share matching funds 
(funds set aside to match donations from private sources) made increased 
cooperative efforts possible. To encourage private investments on the 
public lands, Fish and Wildlife 2000 also calls for development of a "gift 
opportunity catalog" to promote contributions to fish and wildlife projects, 
including land acquisition or access needs. 

BLM placed greater emphasis on developing interdisciplinary 
rangewide management plans for certain high-visibility species, such as the 
desert bighorn sheep, desert tortoise, anadromous fish, waterfowl, and 
raptors to provide specific strategies for key species and ecosystems. An 
emerging issue for BLM is conservation of biological diversity on the 
public lands. The Office of Technology Assessment defines biological 
diversity as "variety and variability among organisms and the ecological 
complexes in which they occur.... Thus, the term encompasses different 
ecosystems, species, genes, and their relative abundance." To date, most of 
this concern has concentrated on threatened and endangered species, but 
according to BLM biologist Allen Cooperrider, the Bureau's role in 
conserving biological diversity at the community or ecosystem level is 
likely to increase in the future. 


BLM's wild horse and burro program in the 1980s focused on removing 
excess animals from the public lands to bring their populations down to 
appropriate management levels, which were established through BLM's 
planning process for about 95 percent of its herd management areas. In 
conjunction with the National Academy of Sciences, the Bureau also 
awarded contracts for research projects on fertility control and population 
genetics of wild horses. Removals from 1980 to 1988 reduced horse and 
burro populations by about a third, but BLM did not expect to reach its 
management objectives until the early 1990s. Because controversies 
continued to elevate this issue to national prominence, in 1988 Director 
Burford asked Congress to hold oversight hearings to provide the Bureau 
with guidance on administering this difficult program. 

BLM found homes for nearly 75,000 excess wild horses and burros 
through its Adopt-A-Horse program since 1980, but many older horses 
proved to be unadoptable. Although the law authorizes humane destruction 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 

of unadopted animals, the American public strongly opposed this approach. 
BLM has since turned to new initiatives, including an increase in adoption 
efforts in the East and the establishment of a pilot sanctuary for unadopted 
wild horses on private lands in South Dakota. BLM also sent horses to 
satellite (temporary) adoption centers in areas where adoption demand 
existed. From 27 such centers in 1983, the number of satellites grew to 71 
in 1987. BLM also worked with prison systems in four states (California, 
Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming) to establish inmate wild horse 
training programs to increase the adoptability of wild horses. 


During the inflationary years of the late 1970s and early 1980s, a 
national housing boom caused a rash of speculative bidding for timber from 
federal lands in Oregon and Washington. Bids rose from around $100 per 
thousand board feet to $300 and $400. In 1982 the nation entered a 
recession. Timber prices plummeted to the $100-per-thousand level and 
sometimes below. The high-bid contracts became uneconomical; 
companies could not harvest without incurring severe financial hardship. 
Many faced bankruptcy. In addition, it was anticipated that massive defaults 
on contracts would cut even further into the already shrinking receipts going 
to both the O&C Counties and the U.S. Treasury. 

BLM and the Forest Service created a program in 1982 to extend the 
term of the high-bid contracts. The intent was to give contract holders more 
time in which to harvest the timber, hoping that lumber prices would rise, 
and to blend high-bid and low-bid timber to soften the financial impact on 
the contract holders. In 1984 Congress passed the Timber Contract Payment 
Modification Act which allowed some contracts to be bought out by the 
holders at a reduced price and the remaining contracts to be extended 
through 1989. 




1983 1984 

Fiscal Year 



Timber revenues 1981-1986 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

BLM law enforcement has "come of age" in the 1980s with Bureau agents and rangers 
participating in cooperative efforts with other agencies, such as this Interagency Marijuana Raid 
Team, consisting of BLM agents and the Oregon State Police in the Roseburg District. 

During the 1980s environmental groups protested several O&C 
activities. One effort involved limiting BLM's use of herbicides on 
competing vegetation in young forest plantations. A 1984 legal challenge 
was successful; use of herbicides was stopped by court order until BLM 
could analyze their use on the public lands. 

Preserving old-growth forests also became an issue; virtually all of the 
old-growth Douglas Fir forests remaining in the Pacific Northwest are 
found on federal lands. Environmentalists argued that management of O&C 
lands under the principle of sustained yield should be revised in favor of full 
multiple use. The northern spotted owl, a subspecies native to these same 
Douglas Fir forests, is thought to depend heavily on old-growth and mature 
forests as habitat. 

After 10-year plans for western Oregon forests were completed in the 
early 1980s, BLM and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife agreed 
to protect habitat for 90 pairs of owls through 1987. In that year the 
agreement was renewed through 1990 and the number of pairs for which 
habitat was to be provided was increased to 110. 

In 1986, BLM's analyses of the effect of timber harvest on the owl in 
the early- 1980s environmental impact statements was challenged. After 
State Director William Luscher found the analyses to be adequate, a court 
suit was begun. A district court ruling favorable to BLM is currently under 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 

In addition to its management of O&C and commercial public domain 
forests, BLM started to manage woodland areas in the 1980s. These areas 
include pinyon-juniper woodlands in Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, and 
Arizona valuable for fuelwood (harvested by both commercial interests and 
individuals), plus items such as pinyon nuts and Christmas trees. BLM hired 
a forester in each district in Nevada to manage this program. 



Prior to the 1980s, the idea of managing cultural resources in BLM was 
almost entirely tied to compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic 
Preservation Act and to assisting other BLM programs in fulfilling their 
objectives. As the Bureau's compliance proficiency grew — and as 
FLPMA's multiple use emphasis became more ingrained in the Bureau — 
the cultural resource program was able to focus on a more long-term, 
planning-based management model. 

Initial program manuals adopted in 1978 were developed with the 
conviction that the cultural resources program should be like other BLM 
resource management programs, according to John Douglas, current 
program leader in Washington. "Just as in the more traditional BLM 
programs, managers should be able to come out of a comprehensive land use 
planning process with cultural resource allocations and then manage the 
resources according to the allocations." A new BLM planning guidance 
manual in 1986 incorporating these concepts was the Bureau's first 
significant step toward realizing these ideas. 

BLM's role in managing cultural resources for the public's benefit was 
given new visibility when the Anasazi Heritage Center opened in the Four 
Corners area of southwest Colorado in August 1988. Built as an 
interpretive, curatorial, and research facility, it will house millions of 
artifacts and records from the Dolores Project, one of the largest 
archaeological recovery projects ever undertaken. The BLM-managed 
facility will serve as a regional repository for the Bureau of Reclamation, 
the Forest Service, and BLM. In addition, it will provide visitors with 
interpretive programs and students with education and research 


Demands for recreational opportunities on BLM lands have continued 
to grow — an unsurprising fact when one considers that 90 percent of 
Americans participate in some form of outdoor recreation. In 1987, BLM 
estimated that there were 56.4 million visits to the public lands, a three-fold 
increase since 1968. 

Because of other national priorities, BLM was not able to focus much 
attention on its recreation program through the early and mid-1980s. During 
this time, however, there were significant increases in ORV use, river 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by Gary Stumpf, Archaeologist 
Arizona State Office 

Cultural resource management has really matured in the past 1 years. We started out as rather 
naive stepchildren, asking as many questions of ourselves as the Bureau was asking of us. The 
very concept of cultural resource management was new, and BLM was one of the pioneers 
forging its standards, its procedures, and even its jargon. It has been a process of learning and 
adjustment for all of us. Some of that adjustment has been awkward but has in general been 
salved with a fair amount of humor. The result is that the cultural resources program has 
emerged with a secure footing in helping BLM carry out its multiple use mission. 

One of our greatest challenges in cultural resource management today is communicating our 
knowledge and enthusiasm about the resources we manage to the general public who pays 
for the work we do. The public has always had a legitimate stake in the way we have managed 
historical and archaeological resources; after all, we wouldn't be in the business we are in 
without some far-reaching legislative expressions of public will. Few people have actually 
participated in cultural resource management activities, however, and the public's sense of 
ownership of, and responsibility for, those resources is not well developed. 

Arizona is particularly fortunate in having two very large 
and active amateur archaeological societies — the Arizona 
Archaeological Society and the Arizona Archaeological 
and Historical Society. We also seem to have an uncommon 
number of non-affiliated amateurs and others who are will- 
ing to devote their efforts to preserving the past. In the past 
three years alone, amateur archaeologists and other volun- 
teers contributed 1 8,000 hours of their time to assist Arizona 
BLM in cultural resource management work. That's a 
remarkable demonstration of public support, reflecting a 
spirit of interest and cooperation that I hope we never take Archaeologist Jennifer Jack 

for granted. working with students 

Our volunteers come from all over the United States; one of them last year even came from 
England. Some of them belong to organizations we don't usually associate with cultural 
resource preservation. For example, members of the Arizona Desert Racing Association 
recently volunteered to help us construct a fence around an archaeological site to protect it 
from off-road vehicle damage. Every once in a while things like that happen to remind us that 
stereotypes are not valid. 

Arizona is also fortunate in having the most comprehensive cultural resource public 
awareness program in the nation, spearheaded by the State Historic Preservation Office. The 
program centers around Arizona Archaeology Week, an annual event which includes 
exhibits at the state capitol and local communities, tours of archaeological and historic sites, 
presentations to schools and community groups, poster contests, newspaper and television 
coverage, participation on radio talk shows, and other activities. BLM js a major participant 
in this event each year, and we cannot help but believe that these efforts have gone a long way 
toward shaping public attitudes on the need for preserving the fragile record of our past. 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 

A very special group of people (from left to right, Barbara Hodel; BLM Utah State Director, 
Roland Robison; Secretary of the Interior, Donald Hodel; Miriam Mueller, friend of the Hodel 
family; and Moab District Manager, Gene Nodine) went on a fact-finding tour in 1987 to discuss 
BLM river management. They are shown at Vista Viewpoint overlooking Westwater Canyon's 
gorge on the Colorado River in Southwestern Utah. 

running, caving, and snowmobiling on the public lands, plus the traditional 
uses of hunting, fishing, and back-country exploring. 

By the late 1980s, the recreation program assumed a more dominant 
role in the Bureau. Several factors contributed to this increased emphasis, 
not the least of which was the President's Commission on Americans 
Outdoors, established by Ronald Reagan in 1986. Public meetings and a 
subsequent report heightened the public's interest in America's recreation 
resources, in a manner somewhat analogous to the work done by the 
Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission in the late 1950s and 
early 1960s. 

Along with this effort, BLM developed Recreation 2000, a long-term 
strategic plan for the management of outdoor recreation opportunities on 
the public lands. The plan presents an overview of BLM's recreation and 
wilderness programs and provides policy for future efforts, including 
visitor information and interpretation; resource protection and monitoring; 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

land ownership and access adjustments; partnerships and volunteer 
programs; and facilities, permits, fees, and concessions. 


Since 1981 , BLM has managed 24.6 million acres of public lands in 855 
separate locations as wilderness study areas while it prepared 
environmental impact statements to determine their suitability for inclusion 
to the National Wilderness Preservation System. Under FLPMA, BLM 
must complete its studies of these areas by 1991. 

By 1988, Congress designated 25 of these areas (totaling 450,000 
acres) as wilderness, starting with Bear Trap Canyon in the Lee Metcalf 
Wilderness in Montana in 1983. Aravaipa Canyon in the Safford District 
and eight areas on the Arizona Strip District were designated in the Arizona 
Wilderness Act of 1984. Cebolla and the West Malpais wilderness areas 
were designated in the Albuquerque District under the El Malpais National 
Monument and National Conservation Area Act of December 31, 1987. 

The Bureau's first wilderness management plan was completed for 
Bear Trap Canyon in 1984. By 1988, 12 draft or final plans had been 
completed. BLM continued to develop management guidelines for its 

*- ,nt"'i. ■*..*.t«/. «.. .■;••■ -de 

BLM Wilderness Study Area, Kanab Creek Esplanade, Hack Canyon, Arizona. 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 


by John Bailey 
Needles Resource Area 

The East Mojave covers 1 .5 million acres, most of it public lands managed by BLM. All of 
the classic land uses are here — grazing, mining, recreation. The classic conflicts are here too, 
all within view of the 15 million residents of southern California and Nevada. 

The California Desert often brings to mind off-road vehicles, sand dunes, and acres of 
creosote. The East Mojave, by contrast, has no "open areas." It contains pinyon-juniper 
woodlands and mountain peaks with white fir. While recreation in the area still requires 
vehicles, the 3,000 miles of roads and trails show very little incidence of cross-country travel. 
Most everyone at some point gets out and takes a walk. Interestingly , a casual observer would 
be hard-pressed to tell whether a particular group is affiliated with a conservation/preserva- 
tion group or one of the many ORV groups in the region — they all do about the same thing 
when they come to the East Mojave and, in fact, individuals often belong to both groups. 

In the past, public lands singled out for special attention were usually transferred to another 
agency that had the funding or skills to manage the area. The "old" BLM was merely a 
temporary caretaker. No more. FLPMA redefined BLM, allowing it to grow. In its desire to 
intensively manage unique areas, the "new" BLM stood on the cutting edge of the public 
debate on the proper balance between conservation and use of federal lands. Special areas 
such as the East Mojave National Scenic Area (or El Malpais), King Range and the proposed 
San Pedro National Conservation Area are important not only for the resources that led to 
their designation, but for their aesthetic qualities. The "new" BLM will be challenged in 
achieving this delicate balance. 

How BLM develops recreational op- 
portunities in the East Mojave will 
certainly set a tone for the region and 
perhaps the agency — arguments over 
developed campgrounds vs. primitive 
backcountry camping; fear that en- 
hancing recreation opportunities will 
bring in too many visitors; contro- 
versy over whether hiking trails 
should also be used by equestrians or 
mountain bikes (expected to become a 
major activity in the not too distant fu- 
ture); firearm use; and the age-old ar- 
gument (for BLM, anyway) of exactly 
what is a "proper" road? 

View from Wildhorse Mesa to Providence Mountain. 

How BLM handles the thorny issue of mining and grazing in a scenic area will also set an 
important precedent. We already require plans of operation for most activities, along with 
performance bonds. The future will most likely bring some attempts to define what undue and 
unnecessary degradation really means, and there is the ticklish issue of miners who are more 
interested in mining investors than ore. But these are not merely problems or conflicts — they 
are opportunities for BLM to tell the public about multiple use, what we are and what we do, 
and to redefine ourselves in the process. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


by Gregory F. Thayn 
Wilderness Coordinator and EIS Team Leader, Utah State Office 

The BLM wilderness review in Utah began in 1978 with an inventory of the 22 million acres 
under BLM management. Studies are still in progress as of 1988 and the BLM anticipates 
possibly several years of interim management before Congress will consider wilderness 
designation for public lands in Utah. 

The review has been filled with controversy from the outset. Many of the issues relative to 
the Wilderness Act that were debated in the 1960s were never resolved and continue to 
complicate the Wilderness Review. Definitions and applications for terms such as "road," 
"outstanding," and "substantially unnoticeable" are subjective and can never be consistently 
understood or applied by everyone involved in the process. 

The history of the BLM's Utah wilderness review is one of decisions by BLM and appeals 
by other parties. Constituencies have organized on both the pro-wilderness and anti- 
wilderness sides of the issue. The BLM has come to know the Southern Utah Wilderness 
Alliance, the Utah Wilderness Coalition, and the Utah Wilderness Association on the pro- 
wilderness side and the Multiple-use Coalition, Utah State Legislature, and associations of 
local government and mineral development interests on the anti-wilderness side. Misinfor- 
mation abounds; facts never stand in the way of a good solid opinion. 

Contributing to the problem is the fact that Utah possesses some outstanding areas that 
obviously meet the Wilderness criteria, but it also contains an abundance of resources such 
as uranium, coal, and tar sand. Some of the areas such as the Sid's Mountain Wilderness Study 
Area, are highly regarded by both wilderness and off-road vehicle enthusiasts and those who 
want a "wilderness" where they can use their off-road vehicle. The issue is complex and 
"compromise" is not part of the vocabulary for discussions between opposing factions. 

BLM's Wilderness Study Areas include approximately 3.2 million of the 22 million acres of 
public lands in Utah. Citizen alternatives range from the Earth First, 16 million-acre 
alternative that ignores the presence of intrusions and land ownership, to the zero-acre, NO 
MORE WILDERNESS, alternative endorsed by the Utah State Legislature. More moderate 
alternatives of 3.8 and 5.2 million acres are proposed by the Utah Wilderness Association and 
the Utah Wilderness Coalition. 

The Utah BLM S tatewide Wilderness Draft Environmental 
Impact Statement (EIS) was published in 1986 and some 
4,496 submissions with a total of 6,213 signatures were re- 
ceived during the comment period. The Final EIS will be 
completed in 1989 and the Secretary of the Interior will 
make wilderness recommendations to the President in 
1991. The real test of the process will come in the legislative 
forum where Congress will hear the opposing viewpoints 
and compromise will be a necessity. 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 

designated wilderness areas, including procedures governing aircraft 
flights, management offish and wildlife habitats, and regulation of mining 
claims made in areas before they were designated. 

In July 1988, the Justice Department concurred with an opinion by 
Interior's Solicitor which found that Congress did not intend to reserve 
federal water rights for wilderness areas when it passed the Wilderness Act 
of 1964. The opinion noted that Congress could reserve water rights for 
wilderness areas at any time or seek them under state law. According to 
Secretary Donald Hodel, "This opinion will help provide a sound basis for 
the ongoing creation of new wilderness areas while preserving state-law 
water rights which, in the West, are the lifeblood of most state economies." 


Conveyance of in-lieu land to states totalled 415,000 acres by 1988, 
leaving fewer than 90,000 acres of public lands for conveyance in the lower 
48 states. Land exchanges were a high priority under Director Burford; 1.6 
million acres of public lands were exchanged under his tenure for 2.1 
million acres of state and private lands to consolidate ownership patterns 
and promote more efficient land management. More than 107,000 acres of 
BLM lands were sold to provide for community expansion. BLM continued 
to designate special management areas on the public lands. By 1988, the 
Bureau managed 162 natural areas totaling 2.4 million acres and more than 
250 Areas of Critical Environmental Concern comprising 5.1 million acres. 


The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 
(ANILCA) decided how the state's public lands would be allocated and 
managed. In addition, ANILCA modified sections of both the Statehood 
Act and the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act regarding issues such as 
ownership of inland waterways, easements, Native allotments, the state 
land selection period, and certain land conveyances to the state and to 
Alaska Natives. 

BLM conveyed more than 34 million acres of land to Alaska since 
1980, with the state receiving title to 84 million acres (over 80 percent of its 
allotment) by July 1988. In addition, more than 17.8 million acres were 
transferred to Alaska Native corporations. As of July 1988, title had passed 
for 36 million acres, or more than 70 percent of the land granted by ANCSA. 

In total, BLM Alaska has been given the job of conveying 148 million 
acres of land since 1959. In the 1980s BLM adopted a "Patent Plan Process" 
to streamline the required field examinations, survey procedures, and patent 
preparation time. BLM plans to complete its land transfers by the year 2008. 

Inland waterways cover more than 10 million acres of land in Alaska. 
BLM is currently determining how many of them are navigable. Until the 
Bureau completes this determination, it will not know which of these lands 




Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

belong to the state under the Statehood Act. The Submerged Land Act of 
1988 ratified as a matter of federal law a 1983 Secretarial policy that applied 
similar standards to Alaska land ownership as has been applied to the Lower 
48. In general, the act provides that the state and Alaska Native corporations 
will not be charged for lands under lakes larger than 50 acres or rivers wider 
than 3 chains (198 feet). 

In 1988, BLM managed 90 million acres in Alaska. When the title 
transfer program is completed, BLM will manage approximately 64 million 
acres, while retaining some functions (such as firefighting) on 150 million 
Other Federal acres. ANILCA greatly expanded America's national parks and wildlife 
Lands refuges; in addition, more than 70 percent of all federal lands classified as 

wilderness are found in Alaska. Sixteen national wildlife refuges cover 75 
million acres, while national forests cover 23 million acres. The National 
Park Service administers some 50 million acres of parks and preserves. 
ANILCA also created 25 wild and scenic rivers in Alaska and identified 12 
river systems for further study. 

Under ANILCA, BLM's responsibilities for land management picked 
up something without parallel in the Lower 4 8 : a requirement under Section 
810 of the act to evaluate the effects of its actions on traditional subsistence 
uses of the public lands by rural residents — Indians, Aleuts, and Eskimos. 
Hunting, fishing, trapping, and the collecting of firewood and various plant 
foods have always occurred on these lands. With ANILCA 's new mandate, 
BLM began to analyze the effects of its actions (withdrawing, reserving, 
leasing, or disposing of public lands) on subsistence uses and needs. 

This effort has involved working with the Alaska Land Use Council 
plus state and federal agencies to obtain information from Native 
corporations, villages, and individuals; BLM hired anthropologists and 
additional biologists to complete this work. The results have been a more 
complete understanding of human use of Alaska lands and anew sensitivity 
for managing those lands to minimize impacts to people still living off the 

All Native allotment applications made under the 1906 Native 
Allotment Act that were pending before the Department on or before 
December 18, 1971, must be processed by BLM. Title has been issued on 
2,200 parcels. Over 5,000 applications for an additional 10,000 parcels 
must be resolved. Congress has legislatively approved many pending 
allotments, but the complexity of the remaining applications has resulted in 
a slow and tedious process that BLM plans to complete by the year 2000. 

While FLPMA repealed federal settlement laws in the lower 48 states, 
settlement was allowed to continue in Alaska until October 21, 1986. In 
1981, BLM opened about 950,000 acres in the Minchumina area of the 
Glennallen Resource Area for settlement; 129 applications were filed. In 
1983, 10,250 acres were opened at Slana (also in the Glennallen Resource 
Homesteading Area), with 500 applications received. But with no electricity or municipal 
water supplies available to settlers, homesteading became a sacrifice that 
most people were no longer prepared to accept — only about 20 patents were 
issued under the program since 1981. 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 



Areas opened to homesteading in Alaska 

MINCHUMINA 1981-1986 

SLANA 1983-1986 


BLM Lands 

BLM's cadastral survey program faced major challenges in Alaska. 
Short field seasons, remote and hostile environments, and, until recently, 
the need for multiple visits to complete survey notes all contributed to a 
difficult and frustrating effort. Given its responsibility to survey the state in 
a reasonable time, BLM Alaska made great strides. 

Less than 2 percent of the state's 365 million acres had been surveyed 
at the time of statehood. Shortly thereafter, innovative survey applications 
were developed: new distance-measuring equipment using radio waves 
replaced the measuring of distances on the ground and provided point-to- 
point measurements miles apart. Monumentation requirements for surveys 
of state and ANCSA selections were reduced to 2-mile intervals on exterior 
township boundaries. And an Airborne Control Survey system was 
developed, in which helicopters were employed to transport mobile 
distance measurement units. 

Satellites provided additional surveying capabilities. The Bureau's first 
Doppler systems, called geoceivers, determined geographic coordinates 
from onsite data received from orbiting satellites. Today's technology 
allows even more exacting accuracy in just a few hours by observing several 
satellites simultaneously. In other areas, BLM has used aerial photo 
interpretation to determine meanderable bodies of water and to delineate 
meander lines. 



Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Along with this technology came the development of computer- 
assisted drafting in 1982, automating the manual survey plat process. A 
more recent addition is a computerized drafting program, AutoCad. With 
AutoCad, plat drafting can keep up with field surveyors. AutoCad will 
eventually allow all of BLM's drafting to be done automatically from data 
entered by field surveyors. 


BLM's Land 






BLM's land use planning system proved to be an effective tool for 
integrating the Bureau's diverse programs and activities into a multiple use 
framework. The task of integrating its vast information holdings, however, 
was not yet complete. BLM continued to collect and maintain resource 
information along program lines and records data along functional lines. In 
the 1980s, the Bureau faced the additional challenge of integrating its data 
and making it more accessible to a growing body of users. 

The Bureau today maintains more than a billion land and mineral 
records on which it documents land ownership, status, and use in more than 
200 offices throughout the country. BLM also maintains data on resources, 
such as wildlife habitats, mineral deposits, and cultural resources on public 
lands. Records and resource data are tied to specific locations on the ground 
via geographic coordinates generated from the Bureau's Public Land 
Survey System. 

Under Director Robert F. Burford, BLM continued its early efforts to 
develop information resource management strategies, including standards 
for data, data bases, and information exchange between automated systems. 
Because the Bureau continued to decentralize its operations to field offices, 
it also planned to "distribute" its Land Information System to local users. 
Administrative systems, which were developed with 1970s technology, 
were also scheduled to be modernized. By the mid-1990s, the Bureau's 
target system will be implemented in field offices. In the meantime, existing 
ADP systems will be maintained. 

The Bureau's Land Information System (LIS) will allow managers and 
the public to access and select information they need from any BLM office. 
The system will provide records information such as Master Title Plats on 
computer screens or printouts. The LIS will also create resource maps, 
allowing its users to select and overlay critical resource themes (locations 
of wildlife habitats, forests, mineral deposits, recreation areas, etc.) to 
determine potential conflicts in use. This information, combined with land 
and mineral records, will allow LIS users to pinpoint resource locations, 
identify land ownership and use, and more efficiently analyze issues — 
replacing the cumbersome, hard-to-locate, and difficult-to-update manual 
records and map overlay schemes employees and the public have had to use 
in the past. 

The Bureau of Land Management's goal for information management 
is to make effective use of automation in making resource management 
decisions and in providing information to the public. Data will be automated 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 

only if it is cost-effective to do so — in many cases, manual methods will be 
maintained. BLM will continue to maintain personal contacts with its 
clients and support traditional hands-on field work. The objectives of the 
Bureau's automation plan arc to: 

- Streamline BLM responses to public inquiries. 

- Facilitate processing of applications and permits. 

- Improve access to land records and BLM resource data. 

- Ensure accuracy and consistency of data. 

- Improve BLM's planning, tracking, and evaluation of its programs. 

Since the mid-1970s, the BLM Service Center has developed and 
maintained more than 40 automated data systems, running the gamut from 
Bureauwide administrative systems to centralized records and resource 
systems. BLM State and District Offices have also developed ADP systems 
for specific uses, such as the Western Oregon Digital Data Base, which is 
used to prepare 10-year forest plans. In the late 1980s, microcomputers 
became common in BLM field offices, reducing their dependency on 
Honeywell Level-6 computers. From being a rare item in 1985, micros 

Deputy Director 

Associate Director 

Land and Renewable 


• Rangeland Resources 

• Forestry 

• Wildlife and Fisheries 

• Wild Horses and Burros 

• Alaska Program 

• Lands 

• Rights-of-Way 

• Recreation, Cultural 
and Wilderness 

Associate Director 

Energy and 
Mineral Resources 

• Hazardous Materials 

• Policy Analysis 

■ Inspection and Enforcement 

■ Fluid Minerals 

• Solid Minerals 

1 Mining Law and Salable Minerals 
1 Geology and Mineral Resources 

External Affairs 


Public Affairs 

Legislation and 

Regulatory Management 

Congressional Affairs 

Associate Director 
Support Services 

Safety, Volunteer Programs 

Cadastral Survey 


Fire Mgt. 

Planning and Environmental Coordination 

Information Resource Mgt. 

Records Mgt. 

Associate Director 
Management Services 

• Finance 

• Personnel and Training 

• Management Research 

• Administrative Services 

• Program Evaluation 

• Budget 

Field Offices 

• States, Districts, Resource Areas 

• Boise Interagency Fire Center 

• BLM Service Center 

BLM organizational structure in 1987. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Robert F. Burford 


by Robert F. Burford 

Editor's Note: Robert Burford graduated from the Colo- 
rado School of Mines in 1944. He has worked as a mining 
engineer and has operated sheep and cattle ranches in 
northwest Colorado. He served three terms in the Colorado 
House of Representatives from 1974 to 1980, and was 
elected Speaker in 1979, before being selected as Director 
by President Reagan. 

It has certainly been a privilege to serve as the Director of 
BLM during the Reagan Administration. Not to sound pre- 
maturely nostalgic, but I carry many fond memories of the 
experiences and the friendships derived from my tenure. I 
cannot take credit for all Bureau accomplishments while I 
have been Director — a great number were pent-up ideas of BLM career professionals that 
had gone long unimplemented. On that count, BLM could not have reached its goals with out 
the creativity and dedication of its employees or from the cooperation of the public lands users 
of the '80s. 

I do, however, take pride in seeing that BLM was set back on track. I was perhaps a bit more 
than a pacifist in the movement termed the "Sagebrush Rebellion." When I first came to 
Washington, our public lands were being managed, not as belonging to all the taxpayers of 
this nation, but more along the lines of private playgrounds for a number of special interests. 
The primary concern was the preservation of those playgrounds. 

Lost had been the leadership to carry out BLM's mission to manage the public lands for a 
multiplicity of uses, not just a single use. The foundation for that mandate, the Federal Land 
Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), tells us to base our management of the public lands 
on this concept and on the principle of sustained yield. So, while our stewardship of the public 
lands includes protection of wildlife habitat, cultural ruins and federal wilderness areas, these 
BLM-managed lands yield a rich bounty of timber, and livestock forage, plus significant 
deposits of oil, gas, coal, and other energy minerals. 

Given BLM's jurisdiction over 270 million acres (about 46 percent of the federally-owned 
lands), that's a big job. There will always be a bit of one-upmanship, I imagine, between all 
the different users of the public lands — whether it's ranchers, hunters, oil riggers, backpack- 
ers, river rafters, or hardrock miners. They each think their use as always the most important 
one offered by our public lands. The magnitude and value of the public land resources 
inevitably lead to conflicting demands by the many users of the public lands. 

The FLPMA mandate for multiple-use management is BLM's most powerful tool for 
reconciling these demands and viewpoints about how the public lands are to be administered. 
It would be a travesty for BLM to become a single-focus organization like the Park Service 
or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It's a balancing act to be sure, but while difficult, 
multiple-use provides enormous results for the nation. In 1987, for instance, BLM oversaw 
a leasing program that produced 148 million barrels of oil from public lands; yet, on the other 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 

hand, we designated new, more sensitive lands as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern 
(ACECs) that now total 5.1 million acres. 

I set as my major goal a return to our congressional multiple use guidance. It was anticipated 
that with stricter attention to multiple use, conflicting user interests and desires would 
increase. To cope with this, I urged BLM employees to conduct their official public service 
duties in a manner that could best be described as a "good neighbor" approach. It was intended 
to place a greater emphasis and sensitivity to our working relationships with state and local 
governments and the public lands users themselves. 

As I reflect upon past accomplishments, I have seen a strong bond develop between BLM and 
the public land users. This partnership has successfully reversed the lock-up trend of previous 
administrations and returned control from the chosen few to local governments that are more 
directly responsive to the public's needs. 

One cooperative effort of which I am particularly proud is in BLM's land use planning 
process, where I have seen a dramatic improvement during the past eight years. BLM's 
resource management plans are the blueprints for future management; they are flexible and 
reflect the conditions of the land. Their effectiveness as a management tool comes from the 
close working relationship BLM people have established with public land users. 

Another continuing challenge is automation. In the past few years, we have made a good start 
on modernization and automation — ALMRS, GIS, the Land Information System. The 
modernization effort is going to have a huge impact on BLM's ability to carry out its mission 
for many years to come. I hope the effort is ingrained enough by the time I leave here that its 
own momentum will carry it through the next administration, and the next one after that. 

The elevation of energy and minerals to be co-equal with renewable resources was yet 
another key accomplishment. Our objective was to get the responsibility for onshore oil and 
gas operations moved from the former Geological Survey Conservation Division into BLM. 
As a result, we gained the responsibility for both subsurface and surface regulation. That was 
a good stroke for the land, and a good stroke for government. It did not make much sense that 
BLM was environmentally responsible for the surface of the land but not the subsurface. The 
fact that we were able to convince a couple of former Secretaries, James Watt and William 
Clark, that those two responsibilities should be melded together was an organizational coup. 

In terms of personnel, feelings run deep and often mixed on the presence of political 
appointees within the ranks of the agency. Like it or not, this practice will continue to be a 
fact of life in Washington. I feel that BLM has been aided by this infusion of talent, men and 
women who brought with them different portfolios of accomplishment, because, by and 
large, they have been a complement to the careerist land manager's goals. Frankly, their 
presence will go far to assure that the Bureau of the future does not become an inbred, stagnant 

Will multiple use of the public lands survive? It can, and it should, but it will take more work 
and a renewed commitment from our elected officials. Multiple use, practiced wisely, is good 
for all Americans. Public lands are for the public to utilize and to enjoy. We have come too 
far to abandon our efforts now. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

became a readily available tool for most BLM employees by 1988. BLM 
employees began to procure or write additional programs for specific local 
needs. These actions, however, pointed to the need for a unified automation 
plan in BLM — one that established data standards and common data bases 
as well as requirements for data exchange among systems. 

After considering the use of existing systems to automate land and 
mineral record operations, BLM began developing the Automated Land 
and Mineral Record System (ALMRS) in 1984. The Bureau's Field 
Committee, composed of BLM Associate State Directors, is supervising 
this effort. ALMRS became a presidential priority system in 1987, the same 
year BLM decided to "bundle" hardware and software procurements with 
commercial off-the-shelf products rather than designing a unique system. 
In 1988 BLM started a comprehensive modernization study and began 




by Mike Evans 
Management Services 

The Human Resource Development Committee (HRDC) is an operating subgroup of the 
Bureau Management Team (BMT). It is chartered to recommend BLM policy and strategic 
direction to the BMT for employee development and training, organization and management 
development, and other human resource development activities. 

The HRDC has three executive members that meet with managers and employees from all 
organizational levels. This enables the members to gain perspective and technical input, and 
it allows employees to participate in the development of the policies that affect them. 

The HRDC assists the BMT in improving workforce productivity, competence, and morale 
by building and maintaining forward thinking, evaluating existing policies and programs, 
and making recommendations regarding change. The HRDC also provides guidance to 
Bureau HRD officials and information to employees. 

Most recendy , the HRDC sponsored a major workshop that set in motion many initiatives for 
further integradng the workforce through a special focus on minorities and women; guided 
a major process to increase morale and agency pride; and is sponsoring a comprehensive 
career development program for all BLM managers and specialists. 

The HRDC will continue to represent the collecdve commitment of the BMT to human 
resource development, and it will continue to learn from all BLM people in its pursuit of 
excellence in managing both natural and human resources. 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 

identifying system requirements to integrate ALMRS, LIS, and other 
automated systems in the Bureau and to ensure that its automation-related 
procurements will be well coordinated. 

The results of this work should transform BLM. According to ALMRS 
Project Manager Brian Bernard, in the mid-1990s a typical Bureau field 
office will do the same work it has always done — manage resources, 
process right-of-way applications, examine mining claims, and so forth. 
However, the tools it uses to do the job will be different. Computers and 
terminals will be used as commonly as they are today in banks and libraries. 
The result will be more time for employees to spend with individual 
members of the public and for on-the-ground field work, with less time 
spent locating case files or tracking down reports. 


Public land management has become an increasingly complex 
science — and it will likely remain so. But despite BLM's increasing 
"procedural" requirements, land management remains an art as much as it 
is a science. Administrations, manuals, systems, and reorganizations have 
come and gone, but the role of individual employees in getting BLM's work 
done is as critical as ever. 

The Bureau of Land Management today employs people in 197 
occupational series — out of a total of 620 in the entire federal government. 
The growth and diversification of BLM's workforce is a good indicator of 
the responsibilities the Bureau has gained in serving the American public. 
Now that we have secured a mission — with a firm commitment to multiple 
use management of the public lands — we must implement the vision. 

The Bureau values its traditions and values its employees. There have 
been plenty of challenges and controversies on the public lands since 1785, 
with battles won and lost, depending on your perspective, and more are yet 
to come. But opportunity also remains — for BLM employees, land users, 
and the American pubic at large, working together to manage the public 
lands for multiple use. And that's what makes the experience exciting and 
worthwhile. BLM's unique values have developed from its unique history. 
An example of these values can be found from a page taken from the 
recently completed strategic plan for the Bureau's recreation program, 
Recreation 2000: 


We are proud of what BLM people have accomplished over the 
years. However, we encourage each of you to recommend and try 
new ideas and options to meet the challenges of the future.... Our 
organization can develop innovation through people by 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

- establishing an environment within the organization that 
supports creativity; 

- rewarding and recognizing employees who have implemented 
unique and successful programs or developed unusual 
approaches to the solution of problems; 

- showing employees a willingness to invest in their future — a 
concern for them on a personal basis; 

- encouraging experimentation while discouraging the attitude 
that it "cannot be done;" 

- developing an attitude in managers of encouragement of 
employees to try new ideas or different directions in 
management styles; 

- implementing a "bottoms-up" style of management — where 
all are encouraged to contribute and participate; 

- establishing procedures and policies that break down the 
bureaucratic tendency to stifle creativity; 

- developing a policy that looks toward the future and at long- 
term solutions to potential or real problems; and 

- continually appraising and reappraising the direction and 
impact of policies with an eye on creative change to correct 
areas of concern. 

We encourage managers and all employees to think, act, 
stimulate, encourage, and reward creativity, freedom of 
expression and the willingness to "give it a try." 

Individual employees in the Bureau of Land Management and its 
predecessor agencies have clearly made a difference in getting things done 
on the public lands. This will remain true in the future. How we do our jobs 
influences millions of Americans. 

BLM's history is America's history. How Americans view their public 
lands is reflected in the Bureau's evolving mission. Our history can and 
should be used as a guide to the future. History does repeat itself, and with 
this awareness, we should be well prepared to meet the challenges of the 

Public land issues that have shaped BLM in the past will continue to 
influence our future. Major themes include: 

development vs. preservation 
multiple use vs. dominant use 
states' rights vs. federal control 
new programs vs. traditional uses 

Balancing the needs, uses, and wishes of the American public on its 
lands is the Bureau's job. Working for BLM is exciting, frustrating at times, 
and, ultimately, rewarding. We hope that you've enjoyed this account of 
BLM's history and that you will be motivated to learn more. 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 

Bureau of Land Management 

Employees 12000 ; 

10.O0O - 

8,000 - 


■2 6.000 " 



4.000 - 

— ' — ' """" -. 

2.000 - 


81 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 

Fiscal Year 


Budget 70 °: 


■5 500- 


B 400 - 


X 300 - 


X 200- 


1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 

Fiscal Year 


Revenues 12000 ; 

10,000 - 

J 8.000 - 


w 6.000 - 


9 4.000 - 



2.000 - 


81 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 

Fiscal Year 



Directors Robert Burford 1981-1989 

Major BLM-MMS Merger 1982 
Legislation Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act 1982 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


While it is too early for historical assessment of BLM and public land 
policies in the 1980s, there is no shortage of writings on the subject. Political 
scientists and natural resource professionals are increasingly focusing their 
attention on BLM and its administration of the public lands. 

Books presenting collections of articles on public land issues best 
illustrate the growing interest in BLM. Among the available books, see 
Rethinking the Federal Lands (1984), edited by Sterling Brubaker; Public 
Lands and the U.S. Economy: Balancing Conservation and Development 
(1984), George Johnston and Peter Emerson, editors; Western Public 
Lands: The Management of Natural Resources in a time of Declining 
Federalism (1984) John Francis and Richard Ganzel, editors; Land Reform, 
American Style (1983), edited by Charles Geisler and Frank Popper; 
Federal Lands Policy (1987) Phillip O. Foss, editor; and The Public Lands 
During the Remainder of the Twentieth Century: Planning, Law and Policy 
in the Federal Land Agencies (1987), by the University of Colorado's 
Natural Resources Law Center. 

Books that talk about the public lands and their values include This 
Land is Your Land: The Struggle to Save America' s Public Lands (1984) by 
Bernard Shanks; Lands of Brighter Destiny: The Public Lands of the 
American West (1986) Elizabeth Darby Junkin; These American Lands: 
Parks, Wilderness, and the Public Lands (1986), Dyan Zaslowsky and the 
Wilderness Society; and The Kingdom in the Country (1987) by James 

Another book that deals with the public lands is Sally K. Fairfax's 
Federal Lands: A Guide to Planning, Management, and State Revenues 

The debate that surrounded management of federal grazing policy is 
illustrated by Gary Libecap, Locking Up the Federal Range: Federal Land 
Controls and Graziers (1981), which calls for privatization of the public 
lands, and Sacred Cows at the Public Trough (1983) by Denzel and Nancy 
Ferguson, which decries the influence of stockraisers who use the public 
range. The National Research Council and National Academy of Sciences' 
Developing Strategies for Rangeland Management (1984) is also of 

BLM wildlife management is addressed in the Audubon Wildlife Report 
of 1987 (1987), edited by Roger L. DiSilvestro, William J. Chandler, and 
Katherine Barton.. 

Mineral policy in the early 1 980s is handled by Robert Nelson in his The 
Making of Federal Coal Policy (1983). A book critical of federal mineral 
policy and advocating reform is Public Domain — Private Dominion: A 
History of Public Mineral Policy in America (1985) by Carl Mayer and 
George Riley. 


BLM Consolidates Its Gains: The 1980s 

On Alaskan issues, see Frank Willis', Do Things Right the First Time: 
The National Park Service and the Alaska National Interest Lands 
Conservation Act of 1980 ( 1 985). Gary Stein discusses the Alaska state land 
selection program in "Promised Land" : A History of Alaska' s Selection of 
Its Congressional Land Grants (1987). 


Commonly Used Acronyms 











Area of Critical Environmental Concern 
Automated Data Processing 
Alaskan Fire Control Service 
Automatic Lightning Detection System 
Automated Land and Mineral Record System 
Allotment Management Plan 
Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act 
Alaska Natural Interest Lands Conservation Act 
Archaeological Resources Protection Act 
Animal Unit Month 


Boise Interagency Fire Center 

Bureau of Land Management 

Bureau Management Team Bureau (see BLM) 



Civilian Conservation Corps 
Council on Environmental Quality 
Cooperative Management Agreements 
Classification and Multiple Use Act 






Environmental Assessment 

Environmental Impact Statement 

Energy Mineral Allocation Recommendation 


Energy Minerals Activity Recommendation 


Environmental Protection Agency 

Ecological Site Inventory 

Eastern States Office 







Federal Land Policy and Management Act 

Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act 

Forest Service 

Federal Water Pollution Control Act 

Fish and Wildlife Service 

Fiscal Year 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

GLO General Land Office 


Habitat Management Plan 


Initial Attack Management System 


Known Geologic Structure 


Land Information System 

Land and Water Conservation Fund 


Management Framework Plan 
Minerals Management Service 
Map Overlay and Statistical System 
Master Title Plat 







National Advisory Board Council 
National Academy of Sciences 
National Environmental Policy Act 
National Historic Preservation Act 
Natural Resources Defense Council 
National Wildfire Coordinating Group 








Office of Aircraft Services 

Oregon and California 

Outer Continental Shelf 

Office of Environmental Project Review 

Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries 

Outdoor Recreation Resources Review 


Off-Road Vehicle 

Office of Technology Assessment 



(Division of) Planning and Environmental 


Public Land Law Review Commission 

Public Rangelands Improvement Act 


Appendix 1 


Prevention of Significant Deterioration 

R&PP Act 



Recreation and Public Purposes Act 
Remote Automated Weather Stations 
Resource Management Plan 


Simultaneous Oil and Gas Leasing Program 


Unit Resource Analysis 
U.S. Geological Survey 


Wilderness Study Area 


Chronology of Significant Events 


The Continental Congress declared the independence of the 13 colonies 
from Great Britain. 

Maryland called upon the new states with claims to the territory west of the 
Appalachian Mountains to cede their titles to the United States for the 
common benefit of the nation. Virginia and other states with claims rejected 
Maryland's request. 


Maryland refused to sign the Articles of Confederation until the states with 
claims to the western lands ceded their interests. 


In an effort to appease Maryland and secure unanimous ratification of the 
Articles of Confederation, New York relinquished its interests to lands west 
of the Appalachian Mountains. Maryland signed the Articles of 

The Congress of the Confederation called upon all the states to relinquish 
their claims to the western country and pledged itself to administering the 
lands for the common benefit of the nation. 


The Congress of the Confederation accepted New York's relinquishment of 
interest in the western lands. 


Great Britain surrendered its interests to the lands south of the Great Lakes 
and east of the Mississippi River in Treaty of Paris. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Virginia ceded its land interests, except in Kentucky, to the United States. 


The Congress of the Confederation enacted a Land Ordinance for the public 
lands northwest of the Ohio River. The law provided for the survey of public 
lands into townships 36 square miles in size. Lands were to be sold at no less 
than $1 an acre and in tracts no smaller than 640 acres. 


Connecticut ceded its interests in western lands. 


South Carolina relinquished its claim to the public domain. 


The Constitution gave Congress the "Power to dispose of and make all 
needful Rules and Regulations respecting The Territory and other Property 
belonging to the United States." 

Congress established the Treasury Department and gave it the 
responsibility of overseeing the sale of public lands. 


The United States accepted North Carolina's relinquishment of title to lands 
beyond the Appalachian Mountains. The area of Tennessee was nominally 
considered part of the public domain, but the United States relinquished its 
interests to Tennessee in 1806 and 1846. 


The first general land law since ratification of the Constitution substantially 
reenacted the Land Ordinance of 1785. The rectangular survey system was 
retained. Public lands could still be sold in tracts no smaller than 640 acres, 
and the minimum price was raised to $2 an acre. 


Appendix 2 


The Land Law of 1 800 reduced the size of tracts that could be sold to 320 
acres and allowed purchasers up to 4 years to pay the amount bid. 


Georgia ceded its interest in the area south of Tennessee to the United States. 


The United States purchased from France the territory drained by the 
western tributaries of the Mississippi River. The Louisiana Purchase 
doubled the size of the young American republic. 

Ohio entered the Union as first state carved from the public domain. The 
federal government retained title to public lands within Ohio's boundaries 
but gave the state Section 16 in each township to help promote the 
establishment of public schools. 


The General Land Office was created on April 25. Headed by a 
commissioner, the new bureau was responsible for the survey and sale of 
public lands. The agency was placed within the Treasury Department. 


The Convention of 1 8 1 8 with Great Britain gave the United States the Red 
River Valley of the North. 


A new land law significantly changed public land sale policy. Credit 
payments were abolished. Lands were sold in tracts no smaller then 80 acres 
and the minimum price was reduced to $1.25 an acre. 


The Preemption Law provided for the preferential sale of 160 acres of 
public lands to actual settlers at the minimum price per acre. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


Texas entered the Union but retained title to the unappropriated lands within 
its borders. 


The Oregon Compromise with Great Britain put the boundary between 
Canada and America from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean at the 
49th Parallel. The Pacific Northwest — Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and 
western Montana — was made part of the public domain. 


Under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico ceded California and the 
Southwest to the United States. 


The General Land Office was transferred to the new Department of the 


The United States purchased the northwestern portion of Texas and added 
75 million acres to the public domain. 


The United States, through the Gadsden Purchase, acquired 1 9 million acres 
from Mexico. 


The Homestead Law passed on May 20th gave settlers the right to enter 1 60 
acres and receive title after 5 years of residence and cultivation. 

Public lands were granted to the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroad 
Companies to aid construction of the nation's first transcontinental rail line. 


Appendix 2 

The Morrill Law granted each state 30,000 acres of public land for each 
congressman and senator to fund establishment of agricultural and 
mechanical arts colleges. 


The Lode Mining Law opened the public mineral lands to exploration and 
development. The law recognized local mining law and provided means for 
the patenting of mineral veins. 


The United States purchased Alaska from Russia. 


The Placer Mining Law provided for the patenting of placer mining claims. 


The General Mining Law was enacted. 

Yellowstone National Park established — the nation's first national park. 


The Coal Lands Law permitted location and purchase of public lands 
chiefly valuable for coal. 

The Timber Cultural Law was enacted by Congress to promote the growth 
of timber in the arid western United States. Law allowed entries of 160 


The Desert Land Law provided for the reclamation of arid lands west of the 
100th Meridian (except Colorado) through irrigation. Entries of 640 acres 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


The Timber and Stone Law provided for the entry and sale of 1 60 acres of 
timberland in California, Nevada, Washington, and Oregon. 


Congress established the U.S. Geological Survey. One duty of the new 
agency was the "classification of the public lands and the Geological 
Structure, mineral resources and products of the national domain." 

The first Public Lands Commission was authorized by Congress to study 
the public land laws and recommend changes. 


Congress extended the provisions of the General Mining Law to Alaska but 
stated that no other public land laws applied. 


The General Public Lands Reform Law repealed the Preemption and 
Timber Culture Laws. Desert Land Law entries were reduced to 320 acres 
and the law's provisions were extended to Colorado. Townsite Laws were 
extended to Alaska and the sale of sites for trade and manufacturing was 

The General Public Lands Reform Law also authorized the President to 
create forest reserves from the public domain. 


The Timber and Stone Law was extended to the remainder of public domain 
(except Alaska). 


The Carey Land Law provided up to 1 million acres of public land to western 
states interested in sponsoring large-scale irrigation projects. 


Appendix 2 


The administration of forest reserves was provided for by Congress. The 
General Land Office exercised this authority. 


Congress extended the provisions of the Homestead Law to Alaska. Timber 
cutting and railroad rights-of-way provisions were also provided for 


The Coal Lands Law of 1873 was extended to Alaska. 


The Reclamation Law provided for the federal construction of large-scale 
irrigation projects. 


The second Public Lands Commission was appointed by President 
Theodore Roosevelt. 


The Forest Service was established within Department of Agriculture to 
administer and manage forest reserves (renamed national forests in 1907). 


The Antiquities Law provided for the preservation and protection of 
prehistoric, historic, and scientifically significant sites on public lands and 
the creation of national monuments. 


The Enlarged Homestead Law of 1909 provided up to 320 acres of 
nonirrigable, semiarid land to homesteaders. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

The United States began a policy of reserving coal in patents issued for 
Homestead and other nonmineral entries. 


The Three- Year Homestead Law reduced the time settlers had to reside on 
and cultivate their entries from 5 to 3 years. 


United States began reserving petroleum, natural gas, phosphate, and other 
minerals in patents issued under the Homestead and other nonmineral land 

The lease of coal deposits in Alaska was authorized. 


The Stockraising Homestead Act allowed entries of 640 acres for lands 
determined to be chiefly valuable for grazing purposes. Patents issued 
under this law reserved all minerals to the United States. 

Congress took back title to the Oregon and California Railroad Company 
land grant. The more than 2 million revested acres included some of the 
Nation's best timber. Administration of the lands was given to the General 
Land Office. 

The National Park Service was created. 


The Mineral Leasing Law provided for the exploration and development of 
coal, petroleum, natural gas, and other minerals by lease. 


The Recreation Act allowed conveyance or lease of public lands valuable 
for recreational purposes to state and local governments. 


Appendix 2 


The Mizpah-Pumpkin Creek Grazing District was established by Congress 
as an experiment in leasing public lands for grazing purposes. 


President Herbert Hoover created the third commission to study public land 
issues. The commission recommended in 1931 that the public domain be 
granted to the states, but this proposal was rejected by Congress. 


The Taylor Grazing Act provided for regulated grazing on the public lands 
(exclusive of Alaska) to improve range conditions and stabilize the western 
livestock industry. The law permitted 80 million acres to be placed into 
grazing districts. Administration of grazing districts went to the Division of 
Grazing (later renamed the Grazing Service). The General Land Office was 
responsible for administering grazing on public lands outside the districts. 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt withdrew most public lands in the western 
United States for classification. 


The Oregon and California Revested Lands Sustained Yield Act was passed 
to enhance the management of General Land Office administered 
timberlands in western Oregon. 


The Oregon and California Revested Lands Administration was placed 
within the General Land Office to implement the O&C Revested Lands 
Sustained Yield Act. 

The Small Tract Act provided for the sale or lease of tracts no larger than 
5 acres for home and other purposes. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


The Alaskan Fire Control Service was created within the General Land 


The Small Tract Act was extended to Alaska. 


The Bureau of Land Management was created by the merger of the General 
Land Office and the Grazing Service in President Harry Truman's 
Reorganization Plan No. 3. 

Fred W. Johnson was selected as the first BLM Director. 


The Acquired Minerals Leasing Act provided for the lease of petroleum, 
natural gas, coal, and other minerals on lands purchased by the United 

The Materials Act gave the Bureau of Land Management authority to 
dispose of timber and other resources. 

The Nicholson Plan provided a scheme for funding BLM's range 
management program through a new grazing formula. 


Marion Clawson became Director of the Bureau of Land Management. 

BLM began decentralizing many management and decisionmaking 
responsibilities from Washington to its field offices. 


Congress provided for the sale of public lands in Alaska. 

BLM began to manage its public timberlands outside the O&C area and 


Appendix 2 


BLM inaugurated a new timber sales policy for O&C lands; the volume of 
timber sold and price received both rose. 

BLM reported a need to improve public rangelands through massive range 
improvement and rehabilitation programs. 

The discovery of oil in Montana and North Dakota sparked a rush to lease 
public lands for oil and gas exploration and production. 


Edward Woozley was selected as BLM Director. 

The Outer Continental Shelf Act gave the Secretary of the Interior authority 
to lease mineral lands more than 3 miles offshore. 


The Recreation and Public Purposes Act amended the Recreation Act of 
1926 to allow for the sale and lease of public lands for public purposes other 
than recreation. 

The Multiple Mineral Development Act allowed for the development of 
locatable and leasable minerals on the same tract of public land. 

BLM's reorganization resulted in the creation of the State Office system. 


The Multiple Surface Development Act was passed to prevent the use of 
mining claims for nonmineral purposes. Federal land management agencies 
were allowed to administer the surface resources of all claims staked after 
passage of the law. On claims staked prior to the act, agencies could acquire 
management authority through legal means. 

The Multiple Surface Use Act also specified that sand, gravel, and certain 
other minerals were no longer locatable under the General Mining Law of 
1872 but were subject to disposal by sale under the Materials Act of 1947. 

A new grazing fee formula was developed for public rangelands based on 
livestock commodity prices. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

BLM estimated that Alaska public lands had 350 billion board feet of timber 
and called for better management of the resource. 


An oil discovery in southern Alaska led to intensive petroleum exploration 
and development in Alaska. 

Fires devastated Alaska. The Kuskokwin fire burned an area twice the size 
of Rhode Island. 


Alaska was admitted to the Union and granted more than 100 million acres 
of public land. 

BLM began to use smokejumpers to fight fires in Alaska. 

The Wild Horse Protection Act prohibited the roundup of wild horses by 
aircraft and motor vehicles. 


The Public Land Administration Act allowed BLM to use forfeited deposits 
to rehabilitate public timberlands, to accept donations for the improvement 
and management of public lands, and to enter into cooperative agreements 
with others to better manage the public domain and its resources. 

BLM inaugurated Project 2012, a 50-year plan for improving the 
administration of the public domain. 


The Kennedy Administration introduced the "Third Conservation Wave". 

Karl Landstrom became Director. 

BLM emphasized a nationwide inventory and classification program for 
public lands to determine needed land tenure adjustments and improve 
resource use and development. 


Appendix 2 

BLM inaugurated Master Unit plans to better determine desirable land 
tenure arrangements before acting on land-use applications. 

BLM issued its first recreation policy handbook. Prepared for Oregon, the 
policy called for the development of recreation sites on BLM-administered 
lands and led to the hiring of BLM's first recreational specialist. 


Columbus Day windstorm in western Oregon destroyed 1 .25 billion board 
feet of lumber on BLM-administered lands. 


Charles Stoddard selected as Director. 

BLM's Vale Project was initiated in western Oregon to demonstrate the 
value of managing not only livestock numbers on the public range but also 
grazing methods and land improvement methods. 

BLM established service centers in Portland, Oregon, and Denver, 
Colorado, to centralize administrative functions and technical expertise. 


The Public Land Law Review Commission was created by Congress to 
study the nation's public land laws and recommend changes. 

The Classification and Multiple Use Act required BLM to determine which 
public lands should be retained in federal ownership and which should be 
disposed. The Act was to be in force only until the Public Land Law Review 
Commission issued its report. 

The Public Land Sale Act gave BLM the authority to sell lands classified 
for disposal under the Classification and Multiple Use Act. 

The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established to fund the 
acquisition of outdoor recreation areas. 

The National Wilderness Act was enacted, but its provisions were not 
applied to BLM-administered lands. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


The Water Quality Act established water quality standards for the nation. 

The Water Resources Planning Act created a council to coordinate water 
resources work. 

The Oil Shale Advisory Board reported to the Department of the Interior 
that the "national interest is best served by the immediate commencement 
of oil shale development." 


Director Boyd Rasmussen appointed. 

The National Historic Preservation Act expanded national cultural 
resources policy to protect prehistoric and historic properties of regional 
and local importance. 

BLM officially established Resource Area Offices to provide better on-the- 
ground management of the public lands. 


BLM designated its first recreation area, the Red Rocks Recreation Lands 
in southern Nevada, under the Classification and Multiple Use Act. 


The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act provided for the preservation of free- 
flowing rivers. BLM administers portions of the Rogue River in Oregon, the 
Rio Grande in New Mexico, and several other rivers under this authority. 

The National Trails System Act allowed for the establishment of a 
nationwide trails system. 

Oil was discovered on Alaska's North Slope. 

BLM established its first primitive areas in Arizona and Utah through the 
land classification process. 

The "Johnny Horizon" program was initiated by BLM to promote public 
awareness of BLM-administered lands. 


Appendix 2 


The BLM's first wild horse range was established in the Pryor Mountains 
along the Montana- Wyoming border. 

The Boise Interagency Fire Center officially opened. 


The National Environmental Policy Act made protection of the 
environment a national priority by requiring all federal agencies to assess 
the impacts of their actions on the environment and to mitigate adverse 

The Geothermal Steam Act provided for the leasing of geothermal energy 
on public lands. 

Congress created the first National Conservation Area in the King Range of 
northern California to promote multiple use and sustained yield 
management of the area by BLM. 

BLM implemented Management Framework Plans under its planning 
system to provide better consideration of social and economic factors when 
making management decisions. 


Burt Silcock selected as Director. 

The Public Land Law Review Commission issued its report, One-Third of 
the Nation's Land. The commission called for a revision of public land laws 
and policies to better meet the many demands being placed on the public 

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act resolved land claims of Alaska 
Natives. The Natives were provided 40 million acres and more than $962 
million. The act also provided for the Interior Department to withhold 80 
million acres of public land from Native and state selection for study as 
potential national parks, wildlife refuges, wild and scenic rivers, and 
national forests. 

The Wild and Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act provided for protection 
and management of these animals on federal lands. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

The Snake River Birds of Prey Area was established to protect valuable 
raptor nesting areas. 

The Department of the Interior set aside National Recreation Lands on BLM 
lands in the California Desert. 

Executive Order 1 1593 required federal agencies to inventory their lands to 
identify and protect significant cultural resource properties. 


The Federal Advisory Committee Act required more effective use of 
advisory boards by federal agencies. BLM restructured its advisory boards 
to reflect a broader range of public user and interest groups. 


Curt Berklund became BLM Director. 

BLM lost a suit brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council on the 
adequacy of BLM's programmatic environmental impact statement (EIS) 
for the range management program. BLM was required to prepare EISs on 
more limited areas. 

Congress declared the environmental study of the Trans-Alaska pipeline 
sufficient and approved project construction. 

The Endangered Species Act provided for the protection of plants and 
animals facing extinction, as well as their habitats. 


BLM's first automated land records system established in Alaska. 


The Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) passed. Congress 
established policy to retain the public lands under federal ownership, to 
inventory and identify their resources, and to provide for the multiple use 
and sustained yield management of public lands and resources through land 
use planning. 


Appendix 2 

BLM inaugurated its nationwide Adopt-A-Horse program in an effort to 
resolve overcrowding of the public range by wild horses and burros. 

BLM completed its first Habitat Management Plan for public lands in the 
Arizona Strip District. 


Frank Gregg selected as BLM Director. 

BLM developed Resource Management Plans to be prepared in conjunction 
with Environmental Impact Statements; the planning system also provided 
for more specific resource activity plans. 


The Public Rangelands Improvement Act sought to improve range 
conditions on the public lands. 

The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act provided environmental 
safeguards for surface mining practices and ensured rehabilitation of mined 


The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act set aside millions of 
acres of public land in Alaska as national parks, national wildlife refuges, 
and wild and scenic river areas. 

BLM and the Forest Service proposed a "Jurisdictional Transfer Program" 
to consolidate lands and operations in an effort to increase management 
efficiency. The proposal was pursued under the Reagan Administration and 
came to be called the "BLM/FS Interchange." Congress, however, did not 
implement the proposal. 

The Energy Security Act advocated alternative energy sources by 
promoting the development of oil shale, synthetic fuel, wind power, and 
geothermal sources. 


Robert F. Burford was named BLM Director. 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 


The Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act strengthened inspection 
and enforcement of onshore oil and gas activity. 

Minerals Management Service (MMS) created when the Conservation 
Division was removed from the U.S. Geological Survey. BLM transferred 
its responsibilities for the Outer Continental Shelf to MMS in February. All 
onshore mineral responsibilities, except royalty accounting, were 
transferred from MMS to BLM in December; the BLM-MMS merger was 
completed by early 1983. 


Bear Trap Canyon in southwestern Montana was designated by Congress 
as BLM's first wilderness area. By 1988, 24 additional public land areas had 
been designated. 


Homesteading officially came to an end with the closing of Alaska lands. 
FLPMA had repealed the Homestead Laws in the lower 48 states in 1976 
but allowed homesteading to continue for another 10 years in Alaska. 


The Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act changed the leasing 
of oil and gas to an all-competitive bid system. 

Fish and Wildlife 2000, published by BLM as a strategic plan, emphasized 
the preservation and enhancement of ecosystems to ensure an "abundance 
and diversity of wildlife, fisheries, and plant resources on the public lands." 


The Anasazi Heritage Center opened in southwestern Colorado. The Center 
serves as both a museum and a facility for the study and interpretation of 
prehistoric cultures in the region. 

BLM released Recreation 2000, a long-range, strategic plan that outlines 
the Bureau's efforts to increase outdoor recreation opportunities on the 
public lands. 


Commissioners and Directors 


Edward Tiffin 1812-1814 

Josiah Meigs 1814-1822 

John McLean 1822-1823 

George Graham 1823-1830 

Elijah Hay ward 1830-1835 

Ethan Allen Brown 1835-1836 

James Whitcomb 1836-1841 

Elisha Huntington 1 84 1 - 1 842 

Thomas H. Blake 1 842- 1 846 

James Shields 1846-1847 

Richard Young 1847-1849 

Justin Butterfield 1849-1852 

John Wilson 1852-1855 

Thomas A. Hendricks 1855-1859 

Samuel A. Smith 1859-1860 

Joseph S . Wilson 1 860- 1 86 1 

James M. Edmunds 1861-1866 

Joseph S . Wilson 1866-1871 

Willis Drummond 1 87 1 - 1 874 

Samuel Burdett 1 874- 1 876 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

James Williamson 1876-1881 

Noah C. McFarland 1881-1885 

William A. J. Sparks 1885-1887 

Strother M. Stockslager 1888-1889 

Lewis Groff 1889-1891 

Thomas Carter 1891-1892 

William Stone 1892-1893 

Silas Lamoraux 1893-1897 

B inger Hermann 1897-1 903 

William A. Richards 1903-1907 

Richard Ballinger 1907-1908 

Fred Dennett 1908-1913 

ClayTallman 1913-1921 

William Spry 1921-1929 

Charles Moore 1929-1933 

Fred W. Johnson 1933-1946 


Farrington Carpenter 1934-1938 

Richard RuUedge 1938-1944 

Clarence Forsling 1944-1946 


Appendix 3 


Fred W. Johnson 1946-1948 

Marion Clawson 1948-1953 

Edward Woozley 1953-1961 

Karl Landstrom 1961-1963 

Charles Stoddard 1963-1966 

Boyd Rasmussen 1966-1971 

BurtSilcock 1971-1973 

CurtBerklund 1973-1977 

Frank Gregg 1977-1981 

Robert F. Burford 1981- 



Acquired Minerals Leasing Act, 74, 92 
Acquisition of the Public Domain, 2-4 
Advisory Boards, 39, 41, 43, 48, 64, 65, 67, 68, 
81,85, 106, 107, 109, 112, 123, 130, 134, 
158, 160, 168, 169, 205, 236-237 
Air Quality Program, 198, 241, 243 
Alaska, 4, 44-45, 47, 68, 70-71, 72-73, 79, 83- 
84,88,92,94, 106, 110, 111, 125-128, 
140, 159, 160-161, 165, 175, 177, 178, 
179, 181, 184-190, 213, 243, 257-260 
Alaska Highway, 47, 72 
Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation 

Act, 159, 188, 190,257-258 
Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, 125, 

126, 160-161, 184, 185, 188, 190,257, 
258, 259 

Alaska Pipeline, 161, 165, 184, 186, 187, 188, 

Alaska Purchase, 4, 44 
Alaska Railroad, 44 
Alaska Resources Committee, 44-45 
Alaska Statehood Land Grant, 92, 125, 126, 

127, 188, 190, 257-258 

Alaskan Fire Control Service, 45, 46, 47, 68 
Antiquities Act, 31, 203 Also see Cultural 

Archaeological Resources Protection Act, 195, 

203 Also see Cultural Resources 
Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, 191, 

193, 257, 263 
Asset Management Program, 221-222, 223 
Automated Land and Mineral Record System, 

See Land Information System 
Automation, 79, 82, 107, 212, 213-214, 220- 

221, 259-260, 264-265 

Burford, Robert R, 220, 235, 236, 237, 262- 

Cadastral Survey, See Survey 

California Desert, 130-131, 158, 168, 173, 175, 

Carey Land Law, 29 

Civilian Conservation Corps, 41, 43, 45, 46, 47 
Classification and Multiple Use Act, 104, 105, 

111-115, 118, 121, 128, 132, 149, 150, 

160, 171, 193 
Clawson, Marion, 54, 58-76, 81, 96, 99 
Coal Land Law, 19-20, 44 Also see Mineral 

Leasing Act 
Coal Leasing Amendments Act, 180 Also see 

Mineral Leasing Act 
Coal Policy, 19-20, 31-32, 44, 122-123, 160, 

173, 179-181, 196, 197, 206, 228, 230, 

231, 233 Also see Minerals Program 
Conservation Division, See Geological Survey 

and Minerals Management Service 
Conservation Movement, 28-34, 37-42, 43, 45, 

47, 98 Also see Third Conservation Wave 
Coos Bay Wagon Road Grant, 42 Also see 

Oregon and California Revested Lands 
Council on Environmental Quality, 162, 176 

Also see National Environmental Policy 

Cultural Resources, 31, 87, 132-133, 160, 195, 

201-203, 224, 251, 252 Also see 

Antiquities Act, Archaeological Resources 

Protection Act, and National Historic 

Preservation Act 

Berklund, Curt, 159, 168, 172-173 
Boise Interagency Fire Center, 118, 138, 139, 
149, 210, 212, 221 Also see Fire Protection 
and Suppression 
BLM-Forest Service Interchange, 222, 223-225 
BLM Organizational Structure, 55-56, 58-59, 
60, 63-64, 68-69, 73, 74, 76, 77, 80-81, 82, 
83, 93, 96, 106, 107, 109, 1 16-117, 118, 
119, 154, 159, 161, 162, 172, 174, 191, 
196, 197, 215, 221, 223, 226-227, 238, 
261, 264-265, 267 

Desert Land Law, 22-23, 26, 29, 31, 72, 91, 
108, 1 10 Also see Lands Program 

Division of Grazing, 37, 41 Also see Grazing 
Service and Taylor Grazing Act 

Donation Laws, 14 

Eastern States Office, 92, 93, 229 
Endangered Species Act, 199 Also see Wildlife 
Energy Security Act, 231 
Environmental Education, 164 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

Environmental Assessments and Impact 

Statements, 162, 165-166, 175, 176, 177, 
180, 186, 191, 200, 205, 207, 209, 214, 
231, 237, 250 Also see Land Use Planning 
and National Environmental Policy Act 

Federal Land Policy and Management Act, 
120, 158, 159, 166-171, 173, 174-175, 
175, 176, 180, 182, 191, 193, 195, 196- 
197, 203, 204, 205, 206, 207, 208, 214, 
227, 228, 262 

Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act, 
232-233 Also see Oil and Gas 

Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform 
Act, 236 Also see Oil and Gas 

Fire Prevention and Suppression, 41, 43, 45, 
46, 68-69, 79, 83-85, 118, 137-138, 139, 
149, 210-212 Also see Boise Interagency 
Fire Center 

Fish and Wildlife Service, 199, 262 Also see 

Forest Reserves, 28-29, 31, 34 

Forest Service, 31, 36,42, 107, 109, 120, 136- 
137, 138, 139, 140, 159, 164, 168, 171, 
176, 197, 207, 208, 209, 213, 223, 225, 
226-227, 229, 239, 249 

Forestry, 28-29, 31, 66-68, 68-69, 70-71, 78, 
79, 82-83, 84, 97, 106, 118, 1 19, 140-141, 
142-143, 144, 145, 149, 161, 209-210, 
249-250, 252 Also see Oregon and 
California Revested Lands 

Further Readings Sections, 50-52, 100-101, 

Graduation Law, 13-14 

Grazing, 23, 25, 26, 35-37, 43 Also see 
Division of Grazing, Grazing Service, 
Range Management, and Taylor Grazing 

Grazing Fees, 38-39, 47^8, 51-52, 57, 63-64, 
81, 134, 136-137, 148, 207-208, 239-240 
Also see Grazing Service, Nicholson Plan, 
Range Management, and Taylor Grazing 

Grazing Service, 40, 41, 45, 47-48, 54, 55, 56, 
57, 68, 69 Also see Division of Grazing, 
Grazing, Range Management, and Taylor 
Grazing Act 

Gregg, Frank, 159, 176, 180, 196-197, 206, 209 

Hazardous Materials, 242 

Homestead Laws, 14, 16,23,29,31,34-35,36, 

37, 44, 72, 91, 92, 110, 175, 258-259 Also 

see Lands Program 
Human Resources Development Committee, 


International Assistance Program, 96-97, 151, 

Irrigation Policy, 29-30 Also see Carey Land 

Act, Desert Land Law, and Reclamation 


Johnny Horizon, 149 
Johnson, Fred W., 55-57, 58 

Gadsden Purchase, 3 

General Land Office, 9, 10, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28- 

29, 31, 34, 35, 36, 41, 42, 43, 44, 46, 47, 

48, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 68, 73 
General Mining Law, 18, 19, 44, 96, 181-182, 

228 Also see Lode Mining Law, Materials 

Act, Minerals Program, and Placer Mining 

General Public Lands Reform Law, 26, 28 
Geological Survey, 20, 29, 31, 32, 33, 205, 

225-228 Also see Minerals Management 

Geothermal Energy, 160, 182 Also see 

Minerals Program 
Geothermal Steam Act, 182 Also see Minerals 


Known Geological Structures, 233-236 Also 
see Oil and Gas 

Land and Water Conservation Fund, 128, 132, 

204 Also see Recreation 
Land Classification, 37, 41, 62-63, 73, 97, 104, 

105, 108, 111-115, \20 Also see 

Classification and Multiple Use Act and 

Land Use Planning 
Land Exchanges, 92, 140-141, 224, 232 Also 

see Lands Program and Sweet Swap 
Land Information System, 220, 260-261, 263, 

264-265 Also see Automation and Land 




Land Law of 1796, 6, 8 

Land Law of 1800, 8 

Land Law of 1803, 9 

Land Law of 1804, 9 

Land Law of 1820, 11,26 

Land Ordinance of 1785, 4-6 

Land Records, 8, 73, 87-88, 89, 220, 260-261, 
263, 264-265 Also see Automation, Land 
Information System, and Lands Program 

Land Use Planning, 41, 48, 62-63, 73, 97, 104, 
108, 119, 120-122, 162, 175-177,220, 
236, 263 Also see Environmental 
Assessments and Impact Statements and 
Land Classification 

Lands Program, 56-57, 73-74, 87-92, 107, 108, 
110-111, 115, 149, 171,213-214,221-222, 
224, 232-233, 236, 257, 260-261, 263 Also 
see Classification and Multiple Use Act, 
Homestead Law, Preemption Law, and 
Public Land Sale Act, and other land laws 

Landstrom, Karl, 105, 106, 108-109, 136, 154 

Law Enforcement, 194-195, 250 

Lode Mining Law, 17, 18 Also see General 
Mining Law, Minerals Program, and 
Placer Mining 

Louisiana Purchase, 3 

Materials Act, 68, 96 Also see General Mining 
Law and Minerals Program 

Mexican and Spanish Land Grants, 24, 26 

Mexican Cession, 3 

Military Land Bounties, 11-12 

Mineral Leasing Act, 33-34, 79, 92, 96, 168, 
180, 231 Also see Coal Lands Law, Coal 
Leasing Amendments Act, Coal Policy, 
Oil and Gas, and Oil Shale 

Minerals Management Service, 33, 220, 221, 
225-228, 229 Also see Geological Survey 

Minerals Program, 74-75, 92, 93, 94-96, 117, 
118, 123-125, 159, 160, 168, 173, 174, 
177-183, 225-236, 261, 263 Also see Coal 
Lands Law, Coal Policy, General Mining 
Law, Mineral Leasing Act, Oil and Gas, 
Oil Shale, Outer Continental Shelf, and 
other mineral subjects 

Mizpah-Pumpkin Creek Grazing District, 36, 
37 Also see Grazing and Taylor Grazing 

Multiple Mineral Development Act, 96 Also 
see General Mining Law, Mineral Leasing 
Act, and Minerals Program 

Multiple Surface Use Act, 78-79, 96 Also see 
General Mining Law and Materials Act, 
and Minerals Program 

Multiple Use, 62, 78-79, 91, 96, 97, 104, 105, 
106, 107, 119, 120, 163, 165, 166, 172, 
176, 191, 193, 214, 220, 262-263, 265-266 

National Energy Act, 180 

National Environmental Policy Act, 117, 158, 
161, 162-166, 173, 175, 176, 187,205, 
206, 207, 214 Also see Council on 
Environmental Quality and Environmental 
Assessments and Impact Statements 

National Forests, See Forest Reserves and 
Forest Service 

National Historic Preservation Act, 201-202 
Also see Cultural Resources 

National Park Service, 31, 86, 87, 104, 140, 

Nadonal Resource Lands, 105 

National Trails System Act, 132, 191, 204 

National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, 132, 191 

Natural Resources Defense Council, 165, 180- 

Nicholson Plan, 57, 63 Also see Range 

Off-Road Vehicle Policy, 129, 130-131, 193- 
194, 195, 225, 252-253 Also see 

Oil and Gas, 32, 74-75, 92, 93, 94-96, 106, 
124-125, 126, 162, 172, 177-179 180, 181, 
184, 186, 187, 188, 232-236, 262 Also see 
Known Geological Structures, Mineral 
Leasing Act, Minerals Program, Placer 
Mining Law, and Outer Continental Shelf 

Oil Shale, 123-124, 160, 168, 181, 231 Also see 
Mineral Leasing Act and Minerals 

Oregon and California Railroad Land Grant, 42 

Oregon and California Revested Lands, 42-43, 
47, 56, 61, 66-68, 78, 82, 83 140-141, 142- 
143, 144, 145, 149, 161, 205, 206, 209- 
210, 249, 250 Also see Coos Bay Wagon 
Road Grant, Forestry, Oregon and 


Opportunity and Challenge: The Story ofBLM 

California Revested Lands Administration, 
Oregon and California Revested Lands 
Sustained Yield Act, and Sweet Swap 

Oregon and California Revested Lands 
Administration, 43, 47 Also see Oregon 
and California Revested Lands, and 
Oregon and California Revested Lands 
Sustained Yield Act 

Oregon and California Revested Lands 
Sustained Yield Act, 43, 118 Also see 
Oregon and California Revested Lands, 
and Oregon and California Revested Lands 

Oregon Country, 3 

Outer Continental Shelf, 78, 95-96, 106, 117, 
125, 172, 177, 178, 179, 206 Also see 
Minerals Program and Oil and Gas 

Placer Mining Law, 17, 18, 19 Also see General 
Mining Law 

Planning, See Land Use Planning 

Preemption Law, 12-13, 23, 26 

Primitive Areas, See Wilderness 

Private Land Grants, 12 

Project 2012, 97 

Public Land Administration Act, 97 

Public Land Law Review Commission, 108, 
109, 115, 117, 118, 120, 149, 160, 166, 
167, 170, 173, 181-182 Also see 
Classification and Multiple Use Act, 
Federal Land Policy and Management Act, 
and Public Sale Act 

Public Land Sale Act, 1 1 1 , 1 1 5, 160 

Public Lands Commissions, 23, 31, 36-37 Also 
see Public Land Law Review Commission 

Public Participation, 106, 112, 115, 168, 172, 
177, 194, 220 Also see Advisory Boards 

Public Range Lands Improvement Act, 159, 
197, 207, 208, 239, 240 

Railroad Land Grants, 21-22, 42 

Range Management, 38-42, 47, 57, 61, 63-65, 
68-69, 77, 80-81, 84, 85-86, 97, 106, 108- 
109, 117, 118, 119, 133-137, 146, 148, 
159, 165, 169, 171, 174, 175, 176, 196, 
197, 205, 206, 207-208, 236-237, 239-240, 
243 Also see Division of Grazing, Grazing, 
Grazing Fees, Grazing Service, Taylor 

Grazing Act, Public Range Lands 
Improvement Act, and Vale Project 

Rasmussen, Boyd, 105, 141, 148-149, 154, 
159, 191, 196 

Reclamation Act, 29-30 Also see Irrigation 

Recreation, 43, 69, 72, 78, 86-87, 105, 106, 
107, 111, 112, 113, 116, 121 128-132, 160, 
161, 171, 193-194,203-204,252-254,255, 
265 Also see Off-Road Vehicle Policy, 
Recreation Act, and Recreation and Public 
Purposes Act 

Recreation Act, 69, 72, 87 

Recreation and Public Purposes Act, 78, 87, 
111, 121, 171 

Rectangular Survey System, See Survey 

Red River Valley of the North, 3 

Renewable Resources Program, 198-199, 236- 

Reorganization Plan No. 3 Act of 1946, 48-49, 

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, 199 

Resource Conservation Areas, 105 

Riparian Area Policy, 224, 236-237 

Sagebrush Rebellion, 159, 196, 220, 221, 262 

Sikes Act, 199 

Silcock, Burt, 159, 160-161, 191 

Small Tract Act, 72, 73, 90-91 

Snake River Birds of Prey Area, 191 Also see 

Soils Program, 198-199, 243 
State Land Grants, 20-21, 22, 222 
Stoddard, Charles, 105, 112, 116, 118-119, 

141, 154, 191, 196 
Surface Mining and Reclamation Control Act, 

Survey, 5, 6, 8, 15, 17, 19, 44, 72-73, 78, 79, 

88-89,93,97, 107, 110, 118, 126, 189, 

Sweet Swap, 140-141 Also see Land Exchanges 

and Oregon and California Revested Lands 

Taylor Grazing Act, 37-42, 54, 63, 72, 81 , 1 18, 

Texas Purchase, 3 
Third Conservation Wave, 104, 109 Also see 

Conservation Movement 
Timber and Stone Law, 28, 31, 82 



Timber Culture Law, 22-23, 26 
Townsite Laws, 16-17,44 

Vale Project, 109, 134, 135 Also see Range 

Volunteers, 151,220 

Water Program, 198-199, 243 
Watershed, 43, 116, 150,243 
Wild and Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act, 

158, 195, 200 
Wild Horse Protection Act, 86, 147 
Wild Horses and Burros, 86, 93, 142-143, 146- 

147, 150, 158, 160, 168, 174, 191, 195, 

Wilderness, 104, 105, 111, 115, 174, 191, 196, 

197, 204-205, 233, 243, 254, 256, 257 
Wilderness Act, See Wilderness 
Wildlife, 31,43,69, 85-86, 105, 106, 107, 116, 

117, 119, 146, 150, 177, 191, 194, 197, 

199, 224, 236, 243-245, 248 Also see Fish 

and Wildlife Service and Snake River 

Birds of Prey Area 
Woozley, Edward, 54, 76-98, 99 



James Muhn is a Land Law Historian with the BLM Service Center in 
Denver, Colorado. In his work Mr. Muhn researches and writes about 
previous administration of the public lands. He wrote Chapters 1 and 2, the 
Further Reading sections of each chapter, and the Appendices at the book's 

Hanson R. Stuart, a writer/editor at the Service Center since 1983, has also 
worked for BLM as a public information specialist. Mr. Stuart has written 
numerous articles and brochures on Bureau programs and activities, as well 
as Chapters 3, 4, and 5 of this book. 


- v 

Cc^ £R 

:, U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 1988— 567-902/M-1429 REGION NO. 8 





3 50 











.. . - •_ ..* ■•